No dedicated EMS funding on the agenda as Justice calls for Special Legislative Session

By RealWV Staff,

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice, on Sunday, called for a Special Legislative Session to coincide with state lawmaker’s presently-ongoing August Interim Session. In a statement released by his office, Justice noted that the agenda for the Special Session contained “some really important items for our legislature to consider.”

In his statement, Justice specifically mentioned salary increases for correctional officers, and clarification of the personal property tax. And while it was not specifically mentioned, the agenda did contain supplemental funding appropriations to the County Fire Protection Fund.

In Justice’s agenda, there were funds allocated to the W.Va. State Police, the Higher Education Policy Commission, and the Department of Transportation. However, while one-time funding was proposed for “certain first responders,” no dedicated or reoccurring funds were allocated to EMS agencies – private or otherwise. 

Shortly after the Legislature adjourned for the evening on Sunday, Chris Hall, executive director of the W.Va. EMS Coalition, along with the coalition’s board of directors, released the following statement:

“The EMS community is dismayed that Governor Justice has refused to answer our call for help during the ongoing special session. 

At least 15 organizations licensed by the Office of EMS to provide 911 response have ceased operations since 2022. These closures, including a mix of governmental, fire department, community non-profit, and private EMS agencies have gone largely unreported but have harmed emergency response in 14 counties. The West Virginia EMS Coalition anticipates closures without funding for EMS like that provided by our five neighboring states.

Beyond these closures, there are numerous EMS agencies that remain in operation but are unable to dispatch an ambulance at certain times due to funding and staffing issues.

While we recognize the Governor and certain members of the legislature may prefer to support fire and EMS through a source other than the insurance surcharge, we are disappointed the Governor would aid fire departments  with surplus funds pending a permanent solution while ignoring the equally significant needs of EMS.”

RealWV will provide updates of the EMS funding shortfall, as well as the Special Legislative Session, as additional information is made available.

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