County responds to EMS crisis

Emergency service providers in Susquehanna County will soon be able to offer potential members access to a grant that will offset the cost of their training. It’s a move the county hopes will work toward helping solve the crisis of volunteers stepping up to be part of local fire and ambulance services.

The county commissioners allocated $100,000 from Act 13 funding to start at First Responders Training Program, at the Wednesday, July 24 meeting. The development and requirements of the program have not yet been finalized, according to Commissioner Alan Hall. The county is also looking to be certified as a designated training facility.

 “The number one crisis in the county is not having volunteers for our fire (companies) and ambulances. Because if doesn’t matter about all that other stuff because if you call 9-1-1 and we cant get volunteers out, it doesn’t matter about all the other stuff,” Hall said. “Right now we have a huge problem. This is a way to try to help our entire population in the county… so we have people days and nights to respond when the phone call comes in.”

An EMT class costs about $2,000 for the volunteer, offered Hall. The commissioners hope that covering that expense will help get more people to volunteer for local first responder organizations.

“Is $100,000 going to be enough?” questioned audience member Colleen Shake at the meeting.

“It probably won’t be enough to solve the problem, but it’s a good start,” Hall answered.

Commissioner MaryAnn Warren, who posted on social media that the commissioners would be voting on the measure prior to the meeting, said some had questioned the allocation of the money for the program. “Shame on you,” she admonished those who voiced their opposition. “$100,000 is nothing when it comes to volunteers saving residents around the county.”

Warren’s post also provided some information about how the program will work. According to the post, when someone volunteers to join a local first responder organization, they will be sponsored and a grant will be applied for to pay that person’s training costs. The individual will have to commit to volunteering for the sponsoring organization a designated period of time or pay back the grant.

It is the second meeting in a row where the commissioners approved funds for emergency service agencies. At the July 10 meeting, an allocation of $375,000 from Act 13 revenue was made to benefit fire companies and ambulance services. Each first responder unit received $10,000.

Hall said the county plans to offer the required first responder trainings, and that would allow the county to monitor the effectiveness of the program. The commissioners also said training classes would likely be held during the day and evening in order to accommodate the volunteers’ employment schedules.

The salary board eliminated the full-time position of Quality Assurance Officer in the 9-1-1 department and replaced it with a part-time telecommunicator and/or Quality Assurance Officer, effective July 20. Mary Rosengrant moved from the full-time to the part-time position.

The commissioners accepted, with regret, the retirement of Raymond Totten from a caseworker position in the Dept. of Children & Youth Services, effective July 26.

The commissioners also accepted, with regret, the resignation of John Colton from a Deputy Sheriff position, effective July 31.

Peter Baumann of Susquehanna was appointed to the Susquehanna County Tick Borne Diseases Task Force, effective immediately through March 9, 2020. Baumann also serves as the president of the Southern Tier Lyme Support Group.

Three part-time corrections officers were hired to work at the Susquehanna County Correctional Facility.

The commissioners opened sealed bids and for a 2010 Dodge Caravan and a 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe which were awarded to the high bidders of each vehicle.

The Susquehanna County Commissioners meet on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at 9 a.m. in the Susquehanna County Courthouse conference room.


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