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There’s a ‘gold lining’ to professional EMS

After reading of the poor attendance by local government representatives to resolve the poor EMS response to emergency calls in Warren County. I had to write this letter of concern.

Lack of manpower during the day, poor response times by volunteer providers is nothing new. I served nearly 20 years both paid and as a volunteer. More than 20 years ago we hashed this same issue out in Western Erie County. I was a charter chairperson for what is now West County Paramedics. Myself and a handful of other firefighters were certified FF1 by Louisiana State University before anyone knew what it was.

In fact a study was completed and this is just an example. Volunteer Fire/EMS treat themselves as an island, each wanting shining new equipment at taxpayers’ expense through fundraisers, state grants and so on. Some departments are lucky to fully man one piece of equipment during the day, yet having other trucks sits empty.

If you have 13 departments, we don’t need 13 rescue trucks. We need two rescue trucks located at each end of the county.

Thirteen departments and 25 engines? We only need 13 engines. Why? You can’t fully man what you have now.

Thirteen departments and 15 ambulances? We may only need six ambulances — two to three on each end of the county fully staffed by a professional service, not a volunteer service.

Volunteer EMS is a liability. If you fail to respond to an emergency, your licenses should be pulled, period!

Volunteers are not providing the best care available. In some cases they have caused harm by a delay response time. The volunteers show up in blue jeans and t-shirt sometimes soiled having a tobacco chew or smell of cigarettes contaminating the patient.

Running a paid EMS service along with a volunteer service is not cost effective and is a band aid fix. The time you figure in the cost of an ambulance, training, equipment and patient reimbursement is low. It is not cost effecting for the volunteers to run an ambulance. If it was your mother, father, child in need of emergency care and it took 20 minutes for help to arrive you would have a fit.

So why do you allow it to happen to other families? It is time for our official to take control for the betterment of Warren County.

There is a gold lining of terminating volunteer ambulance services for a paid service.

1) The wheel is already invited. Paid service is operating now.

2) Paid services will increase good paying positions and paid training. They will seek out the best EMTs from each department in Warren County. Some may become Paramedics. Each Fire Department will have better trained members because they are employed by a paid EMS Service.

3) You are providing the most up to date, clean, uniform, trained EMTs and Paramedics with a paid service provider.

4) In some cases the volunteer departments can run a Quick Response Services, which they can bill for. Volunteer services can bill for each engine used at a scene. The Home and Auto Insurance covers such cost. So in my opinion, volunteer EMS is done.

You will not please everyone because of the antiquated thinking. It is time for professional EMS services.

Harry Senyo is a Russell resident.

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