As the fire and EMS crisis continued, Erie County leaders tried to get ahead of the issue with a proposed municipal EMS authority.
County Executive Brenton Davis said a broader agency would streamline 911 services. That conversation continued with municipal leaders Tuesday night.
It’s the county’s hope to find a way for municipalities to work together to help address the crisis, but not everybody is on board yet.
When you need lifesaving help and dial 911, you expect someone to respond to that call quickly. But with the emergency service crisis impacting the nation, and Erie County, that isn’t always a reality.
“Across Erie County, on average, 40% of our residents, when they call 911 for an ambulance, it’s not readily available,” said Davis.
The county executive presented data to first responders to see where dropped calls are and where services may be lacking.
Davis hoped to continue to build confidence with municipalities throughout Erie County for a municipal EMS authority.
“This is why this EMS authority is critical. It’s to make data-driven investments where and when we need it and to stop looking at things at a municipal line,” said Davis.
He claimed response times have increased 33% since May 2022.
The administration’s team had been active in surveying interest from EMS providers. Every single provider throughout Erie County has participated, signifying that this is an issue that needs to be solved.
But the survey says not everyone’s on board.
According to a study, there are more than three-quarters of providers at least somewhat interested, but the rest don’t think it’s the right solution.
“It gets brought up between meetings among all of the chiefs, but like I’ve said, there’s some good and some bad. It’s good to communicate and get it out there,” said North East Fire Chief Dave Meehl.
Meehl said information sessions like Tuesday night are great, but there’s a lot more that needs to be done.
“I think that we need to keep communicating, keep talking, get as much input as we can and definitely got to get more input from the fire departments,” said Meehl.
Next up for the authority is pushing for the Pennsylvania Senate to pass a bill allowing for county government to assess a fee to residents that would directly go to fund 911 services.