Answering the Call: Caring for our Communities
By State Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter)
Each and every day, emergency medical responders answer calls for assistance with one purpose – to save lives. These dedicated individuals, whether volunteer or career personnel, are professionals who do their absolute best to provide lifesaving services in our communities.

It is important for us to recognize the service and dedication of these men and woman and next week provides a great opportunity! The week of May 19-25 is designated National Emergency Medical Services Week. In fact, this year marks the 50th anniversary of EMS week with a theme of “Honoring our Past. Forging our Future.”

Those of us who are students of history recognize how important it is to study our history to focus on a better future. The history of EMS is rooted on the battlefield with care provided to our soldiers during wartime. From there it was recognized we needed trained individuals to respond to accidents and medical emergencies. In fact, one of the first ambulance services in the country was founded right here in Pennsylvania in 1967. The Freedom House Ambulance Service in Pittsburgh was staffed by Black paramedics who were trailblazers in the field of EMS.

The first EMS Week was dedicated by President Gerald Ford in 1974 to call on the nation to support efforts to improve emergency medical care across the country. Since that time, we have made great advancements with lifesaving skills, technology and medical equipment…but we are at a crossroads.

Our current EMS system is in a state of crisis. Due to multiple factors, including a serious lack of personnel and inconsistent funding, we risk losing these services in our communities. Several rural communities have already lost their local EMS service with more just barely holding on to provide service.

We have made great progress in support of these lifesaving services here in Pennsylvania. We have twice increased Medicaid reimbursement rates and passed legislation to boost availability and bring down the cost of EMS training, including specific provisions to support rural EMS. We have also provided additional grant support for operations, training and equipment.

But we have more work to do. This is not an issue government alone can fix. We need everyone to play a role in protecting, preserving and supporting these vital services. My hometown ambulance service in Port Allegany, where I am honored to serve as a volunteer EMT, has always had a saying, “Caring for the community, a job shared by all of us.”

During this year’s EMS Week and throughout the year, let us all work together in supporting these vital services and answering the call: Caring for our Communities.

Representative Martin T. Causer
67th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler
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