‘EMS deserts’: Providers warn public health committee of low funds, low staffing

"Some towns saw a drop of half of their voluntary EMTs,” said Betsy Gara, president of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns


By Leila Merrill

HARTFORD, Conn. — EMS providers recently told the state General Assembly’s Public Health Committee that the situation for EMS in Connecticut is bleak because of low funding and low staffing, especially in rural areas, News12 reported.

"Some towns saw a drop of half of their voluntary EMTs during this time – up to a third in some other towns,” said Betsy Gara, president of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns.

"We're moving towards ‘EMS deserts’ in our state. Is that a fair way of looking at it?” asked state Sen. Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor).

"Yes, that's where things are going, but it doesn't have to,” replied Ben Zura with the Connecticut Association of Paramedics & EMTs.

The average response time was eight minutes in 2008, but in 2020, it was up to 13 minutes, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Providers are seeking higher reimbursements.

Some towns are hiring full-time EMTs instead of volunteers and offering incentives such as property tax breaks.

Towns also have been consolidating services.

"There are only so many spaghetti dinners and pancake breakfasts that you can hold to fund EMS,” said Robert Glaspy with the Connecticut Association of Paramedics & EMTs.

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