Pa. EMS leader: Government must take action on staffing crisis

Cumberland Goodwill EMS Assistant Chief Nathan Harig says a lack of interested candidates is only a part of larger problems with the state's EMS system


By Laura French

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania EMS leader has spoken out about the government's inaction on the state's EMS staffing crisis.

Cumberland Goodwill EMS Assistant Chief Nathan Harig told ABC 27 that his agency has tried everything to fill an open paramedic position, including offering a $20,000 signing bonus and a pay rate of $25 per hour, but that not a single candidate has applied. 

Cumberland Goodwill EMS Assistant Chief Nathan Harig has tried everything to fill an open paramedic position, including offering a $20,000 signing bonus and $25 per hour, but not a single candidate has applied. (Photo/Cumberland Goodwill EMS Facebook)
Cumberland Goodwill EMS Assistant Chief Nathan Harig has tried everything to fill an open paramedic position, including offering a $20,000 signing bonus and $25 per hour, but not a single candidate has applied. (Photo/Cumberland Goodwill EMS Facebook)

He said his agency's situation reflects a larger problem in the state's EMS system that has been left unresolved for several years. Harig pointed out that EMS officials presented lawmakers with a report in 2017 about the staffing shortage and offered recommended solutions, but that the problem has never been seriously addressed by state officials. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens the statewide EMS staffing crisis, Harig called for the state government to provide more funding for EMS education, pass laws that will better ensure that ambulance services are properly reimbursed, and provide hazard pay for those putting their lives at risk in the pandemic. 

"If we could start to see those actions take place at both the legislative and executive branches, you might be able to stave off a worse crisis," Harig told ABC 27. "But we're already in a crisis right now and unfortunately there's communities that will suffer as a result." 

Read next: Increase pay and paramedics will come? $20k sign-on bonus says otherwise, by Greg Friese, MS NRP, EMS1 Editorial Director.

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