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EP residents question EMS staffing issues

EAST PALESTINE–Village resident Jerry Coblentz spoke to council this week regarding a deficiency in EMS services.

Coblentz believes a levy passed in 2019 should have sufficiently funded the fire department with EMS workers and equipment, but now village residents are waiting nearly 40 minutes for help to arrive.

“What was it used for? It was supposed to be used for EMS, but evidently it was not,” Coblentz said.

Village Manager Mark McTrustry said the funds gained from the levy have been used to staff the station during daylight hours through the week, but weekend coverage has been a struggle.

Council members Flay Stewart and Alan Cohen struggled to grasp staffing issues. Stewart believes doing away with the former shift structure may have resulted in the village’s struggles. “The trouble we have is we don’t have anybody on staff and that leaves nobody accountable. That’s how we used to have it, is where people were accountable,” Stewart said.

Resident Karen Gorby believes people are just not what they used to be.

“It used to be a privilege to be on the fire and the EMS. There were people waiting,” Gorby said. “It takes a unique type of person to do it. Those people aren’t out there anymore.” Gorby recalled her husband walking out of family functions and holidays.

McTrustry advised the village is also struggling to locate employees for EMS services. The village advertised through multiple job boards and reached out to several applicants.

Potential applicants either don’t respond or end the conversation once they hear wages, according to McTrustry.

“Pretty much they just get paid minimal money to save people’s lives and have other jobs,” Mayor Trent Conaway said.

Another village resident suggested working with local communities to build a countywide system of EMS services.

“It’s very political and legally it’s very expensive,” McTrusty said.

Council came to the agreement there are no easy answers at this time.

dgarner@mojonews.com

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