On Monday, state lawmakers, medical professionals, and advocates will be sounding off on the shortage of EMS workers in Connecticut.
They are holding a press conference at 12:15 p.m. at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford before the Public Health Committee Meeting starts at 1 p.m.
A big concern is that the lack of EMTs and paramedics is creating “EMS deserts” in parts of Connecticut. Those are areas, typically in rural parts of the state, with almost no ambulance coverage. It means in an emergency, people could be waiting 30 to 40 minutes for care.
“This is critical. If we do not intervene right now, there is a severe risk, that parts of our state, people will not get the support that they need. And in every moment is critical. Every life is important,” Senator Saud Anwar, (D) 3rd District, said.
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Democratic State Senator Anwar and State Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, District 133, are joining members of the Connecticut Hospital Association, EMTs, paramedics, ambulance services, and hospitals to discuss the challenges the EMS system is facing.
Sen. Anwar says the pandemic is the driving force behind the worker shortage.
“We have seen all the healthcare workers essentially in every field decrease significantly,” Sen. Anwar said. “EMS is no different, but actually arguably much worse, because the EMTs, they were the first ones in line to take people to the hospitals. And at times, they were not even the appropriate levels of PPE at that time. And to volunteer for a little while, it's reasonable, but they have not getting paid the right amount. They're also not getting the protection.”
The proposed reforms include developing an EMS working group to monitor the field; improving education recruitment, and retention of EMTS and paramedics, and increasing pay for these essential workers.
Sen. Anwar expects to raise the bill to the Public Health Committee Monday.