Beth Burd, of Fayette EMS, participated in the Community Foundation of Fayette County’s 2019 Philanthropy Project, not only to raise money for the Fayette Emergency Medical Services Permanent Fund, but to also raise awareness.

Be Local means an area resident stepping up to address an important issue.

Speaking at CFFC’s recent Philanthropy Dinner, the Connellsville resident said, “Over the years in non-profit EMS we have seen a lot of challenges, but I can tell you none are as concerning as the one we’re seeing today.’’

Burd explained, “A lot of people don’t realize we receive no government tax dollars. Eighty percent of our revenue comes from insurance payments and our patient payments for services rendered. Due to the rise in insurance costs, most people have chosen plans that have high deductibles, high co-pays, or possibly no ambulance coverage at all.

“So what we’re seeing,’’ she noted, “is a lot of residents in our community are – due to high payments and other financial burdens they have - they are unable to pay their ambulance bills. This year alone, we have written off $377,000 in bad debt from these unpaid payments. That is rising at an alarming rate, and it’s very unsustainable for us.’’

Burd continued, “Without help from local municipalities or some sort of government help, we’re not going to be able to sustain that and would be forced to close some of our stations, which would mean longer wait times for ambulances.’’

Be Local means offering support to ambulances who serve area communities.

Burd asked the public for help by reaching out to politicians and municipal leaders to talk about what can be done.

“Also when you renew your 2020 insurance coverage, please make sure you’re looking at what you’re getting as far as coverage,’’ said Burd. “Make sure you have ambulance coverage.’’

Supporting ambulance services means helping neighbors.

In a profile on Burd on CFFC website Burd explained that paramedics and EMTs are often overworked but are dedicated to serving the county, sometimes seeing difficult things on-call while caring for those in life-and-death situations.

At the Philanthropy Dinner, Burd reminded the audience, “We are all in this together and we don’t want to see anybody in our community have to wait very long for an ambulance. We’re trying to raise awareness. It’s a very bad time in EMS. We’re doing the best we can so hopefully we can get some support.’’

Those interested in joining the Be Local Network can call 724-425-7515 or email swallach@heraldstandard.com. Discount cards are available at the Herald-Standard, 8 E. Church St., Uniontown, and at the Greene County Messenger, 32 Church St., Waynesburg.

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