By Ammie Ruddle
With the growing concern about emergency service response time, Pendleton County is in search for answers and is looking to the state to provide them.
The Joint Committee on Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Medical Services met on June 14 to discuss ways to assist communities in West Virginia. The discussion included emergency service issues, such as response time.
From 2020 to 2022, the response time has increased from 30 minutes, according to a 2020 Pendleton Times article, to 46.5 minutes.
Gov. Jim Justice issued a press release regarding the meeting. The release stated “the launch of a new initiative is to address the state’s need for additional trained emergency medical services professionals.”
“As we’ve seen over and over again during the pandemic, our EMS workers are absolute heroes,” Justice said, “Whenever we need help, they are always the first ones to run to the fire. But heroes like these don’t grow on trees. They’re few and far between and we need to act now to bring more of them into our state.”
The Answer The Call program is funded by a portion of West Virginia’s allocation of CARES ACT funds. Justice stated, the program is designed to “bolster the state’s EMS workforce and equip communities to better care for West Virginia citizens now and into the future.”
According to the press release, Justice’s strategy is to invest in mobile ambulances to allow educational programs to reach all of West Virginia, including the most rural and remote areas of the state, development of no-cost EMT training, training around mental health, EMS leadership, and geriatric EMS, medic packs for every EMS worker in West Virginia, investments to keep behavioral health providers in rural communities to limit the burden on EMS transportation, and a public relations campaign regarding EMS careers.