Pa. EMS agencies receive none of $50 million in hazard pay grants
The Ambulance Association of Pennsylvania issued an open letter to the governor and general assembly demanding financial support for the state's "constantly forgotten" EMS agencies
By Laura French
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania EMS officials have expressed outrage after it was revealed that EMS agencies were left out of the $50 million in hazard pay grants offered by the state government for COVID-19 relief.
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) released a list of 639 employers that received the grants on Monday, revealing that no EMS agencies received a portion of the funds.
The Ambulance Association of Pennsylvania issued a call to action and an open letter to Gov. Tom Wolf and the state General Assembly in response, writing that the state's EMS agencies have been "continually responding and constantly forgotten" through the pandemic.
"The Hazard Pay Grant was an opportunity to help EMS Agencies compensate our EMS providers for the daily physical and emotional toil of fighting this pandemic," the open letter reads. "It is time for the Governor and the General Assembly to heed our warnings and address the financial, physical and emotional concerns facing EMS providers and EMS Agencies in this Commonwealth. Efforts to prevent the failure of our entire EMS System should be the main concern of local and state government."
The association wrote that the DCED told them that EMS agencies were not granted any of the funds because the government assumed that EMS agencies were eligible for other COVID-19 relief funding.
The DCED also told FOX 43 in a statement, "Simply put, this extremely competitive program needed a structured priority list to ensure that the lowest-paying, most high-risk and public-facing jobs would take precedent during the application review process. The application review team at DCED undertook a rigorous, expeditious, and fair review process."
EMS officials told FOX 43 the government's explanation doesn't make sense because EMS providers are in a high-risk job and most in the state make less than the $20 per hour maximum to be considered eligible for hazard pay under the program. The Ambulance Association of Pennsylvania also said in a statement that the DCED never contacted the state Bureau of EMS or Department of Health for information about the needs of EMS agencies.
Cumberland Goodwill EMS Assistant Chief Nathan Harig also told the news outlet that he had called DCED before applying for the grant to ensure EMS agencies were eligible and was told that they were.
The ambulance association urged supporters to contact state legislators, the governor's office and the press regarding the issue, "to let them know that we have been forgotten, yet again!"