Emergency Medical Service Organizations across the State could receive funding to continue service

Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 10:05 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Speaker of the House, Rachel Talbot Ross, presented a bill that would provide funding to emergency medical service organizations across the state.

She says Maine’s E-M-S system is in crisis and this bill would provide 25-million dollars in the next fiscal year for services in danger of collapsing.

Rick Petrie has worked in the field for nearly four decades.

He supports the bill and says every ambulance service in the state is struggling in some way due to reimbursement at the federal level.

He talked about the struggle to recruit and train new EMTs mainly due to low wages.

Director of Maine E-M-S Sam Hurley spoke and said he wasn’t for or against the bill but says are too many E-M-S services in the state that are not self-sufficient.

He agrees workers need an increase in pay but questions if it’s a sustainable way to move forward.

”Nationally, the average median wage for EMTs is $17.05 per hour. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists EMS as one of the lowest paying jobs in health care. When you stop and look at the responsibilities that the EMS providers have, it’s no wonder that they don’t want to, People don’t want to jump into the field,” Petrie said.

“What I’m worried about is using these funds, this $25 million allocated to increase the pay because what I worry about is when this money goes away next year, the year after you now have people making $35 an hour and you don’t have anyone to pay the bill,” Hurley said.

No one testified in opposition of the bill.