Forest leaders give update on ambulance situation

Forest County commissioners gave an update at their meeting Wednesday about the two ambulances the county is purchasing and the county’s ambulance service situation.

“We’ve been given the go ahead to order two ambulances….one has already been ordered,” commissioners chairman Mark Kingston said.

Commissioner Bob Snyder said the ambulances won’t arrive for about a year since there is a shortage of ambulances “like there are shortages of everything else.”

Grant requirements say the county must maintain ownership of the ambulances, one of which will be stationed in Tionesta and the other in Marienville, Snyder said.

“At the end of the day, there has to be more than the county buying ambulances and making training available,” Snyder said. “The municipalities need to step up.”

Snyder added that people will also need to step up to staff the ambulances.

“It’s amazing…two EMTs with camps on the east side of the county said ‘count me in’ if you need help with training or running calls on the weekends. It doesn’t take a lot of talking for people to say count me in,” Snyder said.

In the meantime, Snyder said he is continuing to work with Butler County Community College to get an EMT course set up in Forest County.

“We are supposed to start in January. I got the names of four instructors and I’m working out the details (with the college),” Snyder said.

Snyder noted that an ambulance service must run a minimum of 450 calls a year to break even.

Snyder also said that Sheffield Fire Department’s ambulance services out of Warren County, which serves the northeastern part of Forest County, will be ending at the end of the year.

Kingston noted that the ambulance situation on the western side of the county isn’t as dire as on the eastern side.

In other business Wednesday, the commissioners approved returning unspent Emergency Rental Assistance funds to the state Department of Human Services.

“When they sent us $400,000 we shook our heads. We weren’t going to use it. Other counties need it,” Snyder said.

With the deadline for spending the funds passed, the county has to return $398,986.72 to the Department of Human Services.