The Pe Ell Town Council discussed challenges facing its emergency medical services (EMS) on Tuesday night.
Pe Ell’s EMS services are currently short-staffed and the town is facing the possibility of losing EMS services entirely.
“The consequences of this are possibly no EMS coverage out here whatsoever,” said Miles Burmeister, chief of the Pe Ell-based Lewis County Fire District 11.
According to Burmeister, Pe Ell’s EMS need four or five new people, including at least two people willing to provide daytime service. The issue is driven by a combination of retirements and people choosing to move away.
One challenge facing Pe Ell is the cost of hiring new EMS employees. Burmeister told the Pe Ell Town Council an EMT costs about $75,000 a year on average in Lewis County, above what the town could afford even with a potential upcoming EMS levy. One solution being examined is hiring EMTs per diem from other municipalities in the area.
For many members of the Pe Ell community, the EMS issues are troubling.
“We’re really frustrated as a community but there just not much we can do,” said one Pe Ell resident at the town council meeting who is also a member of the fire department.
After the community member finished speaking, multiple members of the town council voiced their appreciation for the fire department.
A meeting to discuss the problems facing Pe Ell’s EMS issues is scheduled to be held on Monday, Aug. 22, at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will take place at the Pe Ell Fire Station, located at 721 N. Main Street in Pe Ell.