Butler County EMS company is only one statewide to run pilot program to combat paramedic shortage

BUTLER COUNTY, Pa. — More than 3,000 times a year, Quality EMS ambulances pull out of this drive to save a life.

“Everyone starts as an EMT, an EMT has 300-400 hours of schooling and their patient care is noninvasive,” said Conrad Pfeifer who’s the Executive Director of Quality EMS.

Compared to a paramedic who can do it all, but paramedics are becoming harder to find.

“We knew there’s a paramedic shortage, we knew we needed to be proactive and try to solve this problem as best we can until we get more paramedics on the streets,” said Keith Singleton who’s Deputy Chief of Quality EMS.

Quality EMS covers these six municipalities in Southern Butler County: Callery, Adams Township, Middlesex Township, Mars, Forward Township and Valencia. By studying the calls, they find a hole.

Many calls a paramedic was only needed to administer pain management medication so why not train EMTs to do just that?

“This pilot program will plug that hole where an EMT can give meaningful pain control from wherever they may be. It’s simple, it’s safe, it’s effective and very quick to deploy,” Singleton said.

This company is the only one in the state to do this research using a gas called nitrous oxide. It’s something other states are already doing but can make a huge change when it comes to emergency response.

“It allows for the paramedic to be available for higher acuity calls like seizures, cardiac arrests, difficulty breathing calls rather than being on a call where someone just needs pain medication,” Singleton said.

Harrisburg gave the green light for one year with the potential to roll it out statewide at the conclusion of this pilot study.

“Each unit costs about $3500 just for the unit itself. UPMC partnered with us and are supplying the gas necessary to use the machines and Pro-Nox is the unit we use, and they gave us a discount to help with the pilot program,” Singleton said.

EMS companies don’t actually get tax dollars from their municipalities have given money from their budgets to make these types of projects work.

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