"During the pandemic, our emergency responders have become more important than ever," Gov. Wolf said. "They have been out on the front lines of this fight, helping attend to COVID-19 patients in their most dire time of need. They have had to adapt their practices to keep themselves and their patients safe, all while continuing to serve as a lifeline to their communities and support the health care system."
In addition to adapting to additional personal protective equipment use and the concerns of keeping staff and patients safe, emergency responders have had limited fundraising opportunities – the lifeblood of many organizations – because of closure and occupancy restrictions put in place to protect everyone.
To offset some of the losses, the Wolf Administration and General Assembly worked together to pass legislation to make $50 million in grants available to first responders and fire companies negatively affected by COVID. The Office of State Fire Commissioner is helping to enact the legislation. Grant applications are due August 7 and Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego joined Gov. Wolf today to discuss the role of EMS and fire companies during the pandemic and the stress associated with this uncharted environment.
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"This year has brought many challenges to Emergency Responders and, as always, you have met these challenges with perseverance, team work, new ideas, flexible attributes and most importantly, with your steadfast dedication to serving those in need during a constantly changing environment," Commissioner Trego said.
Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and members of the Lancaster EMS also joined Gov. Wolf at the event.
Dr. Levine discussed the importance of wearing masks and how they also protect first responders.
"Our EMS providers are on the front line from the opioid epidemic to the COVID-19 pandemic," Dr. Levine said. "When we wear our masks, we not only prevent the spread of COVID and save lives, but we are saying thank you to these heroes. Please make sure you wear a mask any time you are in public."
Lancaster EMS deputy chief and director of operations Jerry Schramm discussed the unique adjustments staff are making in response to COVID and to continue daily calls for all types of emergencies.
"With proper pre-planning, inventorying of personal protective equipment, and a detailed internal response plan, the Lancaster EMS response to COVID-19 ensured a consistent level of response to our community as well as maintained a high level of safety for our workforce," Schramm said.
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"Thank you, Lancaster EMS and all emergency personnel, for ensuring that every Pennsylvanian can dial 9-1-1 and get the help they need; you have responded with terrific resolve to COVID-19," Gov. Wolf said. "And even during this time of hardship, you have provided the safe, competent and compassionate emergency care that makes Pennsylvania's EMS system one of the best in the country."
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