Legislation Boosting Aid to First Responders Set for Enactment

HARRISBURG – Building on a promise to provide Pennsylvania’s frontline heroes with relief, Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) today voted to advance a measure to provide $25 million in funding to support our Commonwealth’s EMS providers.

The funding comes from federal disaster relief funds and will be distributed under the Emergency Medical Services COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program. EMS companies will be able to receive these funds through the Office of the State Fire Commissioner.

“Continuing to build on our support for these warriors and heroes, we are pleased to offer an additional $25 million for EMS and EMT workers to the $225 million already signed into law in January to support acute health care workers,” said Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward. “Pennsylvania’s frontline workers, EMS, and ambulance service providers have been the warriors and heroes who have been in the trenches doing all they can to keep Pennsylvanians from succumbing to the COVID-19 pandemic both physically and mentally, and I am grateful for the work they are doing to help their fellow Pennsylvanians.”

Since January, the General Assembly has advanced measures totaling $250 million for our frontline workers, health care providers, emergency services, and EMTs. The passage of Senate Bill 739 builds upon the General Assembly’s recent efforts to distribute $225 million in federal relief funds for hospital and behavioral health providers to retain and recruit staff.

“The Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute (PFESI) commends the members of the General Assembly for passing Senate Bill 739, which will provide $25 million in grant funding to ambulance services,” said Jerry Ozog, executive director of PFESI. “Ambulance services were struggling to maintain operations even before the COVID-19 pandemic and Senate Bill 739 will provide much needed help. We are extremely thankful to the EMTs and paramedics in Pennsylvania who provide emergency care every day and night while enduring difficult conditions.”

Senate Bill 739 would ensure that all fire companies – whether volunteer, paid or combination department – are eligible for the low-interest loans through the Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Loan Program. 

“The Emergency Medical Services system in Pennsylvania has been under tremendous pressure since the onset of COVID. These pressures have manifested themselves into a variety of significant problems, such as financial stability and the ability to staff the ambulances”, said Anthony Deaven, Vice President, Emergency Health Services Council. “The recognition of these system-wide problems by the legislature continues to show their commitment to the meeting the emergency medical needs of the citizens of Pennsylvania.”

The funding will be distributed on a pro rata basis to EMS companies. Having received support from the Senate, the bill advances to the governor’s desk for signature.

Contact: Erica Clayton Wright, ewright@pasen.gov, (412) 334-4856