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Our opinion: EMS difficulties need state help

It seems everyone in Pennsylvania knows there is a shortage of volunteer firefighters to handle an ever-increasing number of EMS calls.

There is no shortage of proposed state solutions to boost volunteer firefighter recruitment and no state lawmaker would say that the shortage of EMS response capacity, particularly in rural Pennsylvania, isn’t a concerning issue.

But Ben Kafferlin is right when he says he “can’t think of anything that is their thing.”

When you think about it, that cuts to the heart of the matter. Warren County is making some progress on emergency medical services, but it’s incremental progress.

That’s laudable, but not enough to provide a long-term solution that provides enough first responders to answer every call for help that comes to the 911 switchboard.

Programs that solve 1 or 2 percent of the problem aren’t enough to move the needle in Harrisburg, where it’s easy for EMS to be drowned out amid questions over state policies over things like abortion, environmental policy and political disagreements. EMS needs a big-ticket solution for a high-ranking member of the Legislature to make emergency medical services their “thing.”

EMS needs a big-ticket solution for people like Jeff Coleman, one of the state lieutenant governor candidates, to apply the energy in the halls of the state Capitol. But when people like Coleman are coming to Spring Creek asking for ideas where he should focus if he’s elected to statewide office, it speaks to the lack of big ideas in Harrisburg to solve a problem that affects every Pennsylvania resident, regardless of their political party.

The EMS problem is big. And it deserves greater thought and action by state lawmakers.

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