Air ambulance provider reports EMS worker shortage, seeks legislative help

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The shortage of trained EMS workers in the state is a crisis that now includes air ambulances.

HealthNet Aeromedical Services President and CEO Clinton Burley said just like their ground counterparts, if they have no staff they cannot provide services to the community.

Clinton Burley

“It has reached a point where every day in West Virginia there are ambulances parked because there is no staffing,” Burley said.

For HealthNet, the problem is solved by shuffling assets to maintain coverage but Burley contends the deepening worker shortage will make those efforts less effective and eventually ineffective if a solution is not developed.

“If we have an aircraft that is out of service in one location, the one that is next closest would be moved half-way in between those locations to balance out the coverage,” Burley said.

Gov. Jim Justice earmarked $10 million earlier this year to help work on the problem and as a result the state has five mobile ambulance training vehicles that can conduct education.

“The education is available at no cost and it is available in every local community across West Virginia,” Burley said. “You can make a difference for your neighbors and now is the time to help.”

Burley hopes lawmakers will continue pumping more money into the ailing state EMS system.

“We have the attention of the legislature and the executive of the state as to the needs of EMS,” Burley said. “These leaders are listening and they’re responding.”

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