Pike has more EMTs now, thanks to Greater Pike scholarships

Milford. Addressing high training costs is making a big difference in meeting the desperate need for medical first responders, especially in remote areas.

| 08 Apr 2021 | 03:01

Bill Lovejoy of Shohola was fortunate, when he broke his ankle on Christmas Day 2019, that his grandchildren were able to load him into an SUV and drive him to the hospital.

He’d broken his tibia and fibula.

After that, his daughter suggested he not live in a remote place like Pike County, which had a lack of medical facilities.

Area attorney Jason Ohliger was already talking to Jenni Hamill, the Greater Pike Community Foundation executive director, about the lack of ambulance coverage in the county. That idea was the beginning of what became the Emergency Services Initiative Fund.

That was before the Covid-19 pandemic. So far in 2021, six students have become fully certified emergency medical technicians through scholarships provided by the fund. Another 10 expect to be finished by May.

County commissioners’ chair Matt Osterberg said the county will eventually have 23 medical responders. Numerous CPR, first aid and other classes have a total 62 students, and that number is expected to rise. “Without this in place, this would be hard to accomplish,” Osterberg said.

Volunteer scarcity, explained

The classes are held at the county 911 Center in Milford. Previously, county residents who wanted to become EMTs had to spend their own money on independent trainers.

Originally, the thinking was that volunteerism was low because of the time and money people had to spend to get the necessary training.

“The idea was you shouldn’t have to do that,” Ohliger said. “If you’re willing to volunteer your time to the community, you shouldn’t have to pay approaching $1,000 for the training to enable you to do that.”

Ohliger and Hamill talked about how to create a fund to bridge the gap in volunteers. Then Lovejoy, after his accident, talked to government officials, including the county commissioners.

“It’s really an amazing thing because it truly is a public/private partnership arrangement,” Ohliger said.

NEPA Gives Day moves the ball forward

The county had 911, and the Pike Community Foundation was managing the funds. Everything was starting to fall into place.

“Without any of these components, this would not work the way that it’s working,” Ohliger said. “We’ve now reached a point where it’s working. When we started fundraising last year, we knew the need and were confident that if we had the funds, they would be used productively, but we didn’t have a track record.”

Last year’s NEPA Gives Day raised $8,000. Ohliger’s law firm, Zimmerman/Ohliger, contributed $3,500 to the fund. The Initiative Fund also had a $10,000 matching funds promise.

This year’s NEPA Gives Day is scheduled for Friday, June 4. A $10,000 matching funds promise has been made again this year.

Ohliger hopes this year’s contribution is even higher.

“I like to think we have a track record,” he said. “I hope people recognize that and give even more to the EMSI.”

“If you’re willing to volunteer your time to the community, you shouldn’t have to pay approaching $1,000 for the training to enable you to do that.” Jason Ohliger