The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee will hold a public hearing today Monday, August 24th at 11:30 a.m. at the Pike County Training Center, 135 Pike County Boulevard, Lords Valley (Pike County). The topic of the hearing will be on Fire & EMS issues.
Senator Mike Regan (R-Cumberland & York), who chairs the Committee, said the public hearing will focus on what has been accomplished since the 2018 SR 6 (Fire & EMS Commission) Report and what can be accomplished in the remaining months of the 2019-20 legislative session. Additionally, the Committee will hear from Pike County officials on their 2018 Assessment of Emergency Medical Services Report. Finally, legislation will be unveiled permitting countywide public safety (Fire and/or EMS) authorities.
“Since the SR 6 Report, the General Assembly has passed several measures of importance to our Fire and EMS Community, namely the expansion of Online Fire Training, $50 million for COVID-19 Emergency Grants for Fire & EMS, and most recently the enactment of legislation creating a statewide Emergency Responder Mental Wellness and Stress Management Program,” said Sen. Regan. “There is more work to be done as our Fire & EMS communities are facing daunting challenges, particularly during this era of COVID-19. I am hopeful that this hearing will build on the work that has been done as well as bring forth fresh new ideas.”
Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne, and Wyoming), requested the hearing to review the Pike County EMS Report. “Emergency response is a constant matter of discussion in small communities and rural areas,” said Sen. Baker. “For years, it has been a real challenge to attract volunteers and provide the equipment and training they need to be safe and effective. This is further complicated in a county that lacks a hospital and other health care infrastructure. Local officials have put a lot of thought into assessing the current capabilities and trying to determine how to meet prevention and protection needs going forward. Obviously, the pandemic has furthered strained manpower and financial resources. It has increased the degree of difficulty in seeing to the safety of first responders. This is a crucial conversation. While I have consistently advocated the concerns and needs of emergency and protective services, I want my colleagues to hear directly about local concerns and needs. State and local budgets are afflicted with revenue shortfalls, but we cannot afford to shortchange our first responders.”
Among those offering testimony are the State Fire Commissioner, the state Director of EMS, Pike County Commissioners Matthew Osterberg, Ronald Schmalzle and Steve Guccini, and other associations.
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