Shepstone Management Company, Inc.
Marcellus Shale Impact Fees (Act 13 funds) are being used to train emergency service providers to save lives in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.
Susquehanna County is using its Marcellus Shale Impact Fees to save lives. It’s investing some of the Act 13 money its received from gas drilling in the county to fund a First Responders Training Program. It’s a fabulous initiative; one designed to directly address the critical shortage of fire and ambulance volunteers that plagues so many rural areas.
Staci Wilson carries the story at the Independent (emphasis added):
Emergency service providers in Susquehanna County will soon be able to offer potential members access to a grant that will offset the cost of their training. It’s a move the county hopes will work toward helping solve the crisis of volunteers stepping up to be part of local fire and ambulance services.
The county commissioners allocated $100,000 from Act 13 funding to start at First Responders Training Program, at the Wednesday, July 24 meeting. The development and requirements of the program have not yet been finalized, according to Commissioner Alan Hall. The county is also looking to be certified as a designated training facility.
“The number one crisis in the county is not having volunteers for our fire (companies) and ambulances. Because if doesn’t matter about all that other stuff because if you call 9-1-1 and we cant get volunteers out, it doesn’t matter about all the other stuff,” Hall said. “Right now we have a huge problem. This is a way to try to help our entire population in the county… so we have people days and nights to respond when the phone call comes in.”
An EMT class costs about $2,000 for the volunteer, offered Hall. The commissioners hope that covering that expense will help get more people to volunteer for local first responder organizations…
[According to} Commissioner Mary Ann Warren… when someone volunteers to join a local first responder organization, they will be sponsored and a grant will be applied for to pay that person’s training costs. The individual will have to commit to volunteering for the sponsoring organization a designated period of time or pay back the grant.
It is the second meeting in a row where the commissioners approved funds for emergency service agencies. At the July 10 meeting, an allocation of $375,000 from Act 13 revenue was made to benefit fire companies and ambulance services. Each first responder unit received $10,000.
Hall said the county plans to offer the required first responder trainings, and that would allow the county to monitor the effectiveness of the program. The commissioners also said training classes would likely be held during the day and evening in order to accommodate the volunteers’ employment schedules.
This is, quite obviously, a very serious attempt to address the volunteer crisis. A lack of sufficient volunteers to staff ambulance services and fire companies has made life difficult for many of these emergency service providers throughout rural areas of the country.
The problem has arisen over the last couple of decades as a combination of heavy-duty state certification requirements, societal change and other factors have made it more difficult to attract young men and women to serve. Money to ease the burden and recognition to reward it are the keys. Susquehanna County is putting its Marcellus Shale Impact Fees delivered via Act 13 to work to address the issue.