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Lack of Advertising Money Hurts Easton's EMS

A lack of advertising funds is being blamed for the Easton Emergency Medical Service's inability to attract more volunteers. That and a downward trend in volunteerism itself.  The result is that the Easton Emergency Medical Service is often dependent on surrounding towns for assistance, said Easton EMT Sarah Olschan .

"We don't have enough money to put advertisements in newspapers and we have one sign out in front of the building," said Olschan.

Jonathan Arnold, assistant chief of operations, said even with newspapers advertisements, notification to the public is an issue when recruiting volunteers because the Internet has caused fewer people to read newspapers.

"Our other problem is that even if people figure out we are here and what we do, they may not have the time to take the class and then volunteer," said Arnold. "The demographics of Easton EMS is all over the place. We have stay at home mothers who volunteer a few hours a month for us and we have 18 year old college students who volunteer 40 hours a week; we have adult professionals who work one shift a week."

The EMS is currently working with eight in-town volunteers. Olschan said ambulances from other towns are used on nights when there aren't enough volunteers.

"The bottom line at Easton EMS is to provide quality paitent care, provided by your neighbors or in some cases your family," said Arnold. "We find that 9 times out of 10 that the patient knows a member of the crew responding to there emergency. You just don't get that if you sub contract out to a service that employs people from as far away as maybe New Haven County."

Olschan said that when her mom, Midge Soloman, first became an EMT there were more than enough volunteers to go on a call.

"I was in my 40s when I started,” said Solomon. “A lot of older people have moved away and the younger people went to college. The turnover has caused a change in the membership. People have also stopped volunteering as much – it was kind of a trend, I think."

Olschan said there were more television shows about EMS volunteers, such as “Third Watch,” when she first became an EMT and this could have contributed to the trend.

Using ambulances from other towns takes money from Easton and makes the wait longer for residents, Olschan said.

An EMT basic course is scheduled to start Tuesday, April 5, and run Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 10 p.m. until July 2. The class will also be given every other Saturday at a time to be determined.

For more information or to register for the class, visit eastonems.com or visit the EMS office at 448 Sport Hill Road next to the Easton Village Store.

Why do you think there are so few volunteers? Leave your comments below.

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