FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — West Virginia is facing a critical shortage of EMS workers.

Ghent Volunteer Fire Department EMS crews, in Raleigh County, respond to 911 calls from out of their district, including Mercer County and Beckley, Ghent VFD EMS Director Robert Wilburn reported in February.

In Fayette County, Mount Hope Fire Department’s EMS workers said on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, that they also take emergency medical calls wherever they happen.

“Small, EMS agencies across the state that have actually bankrupted during this EMS funding shortage,” said Ashley Williams, a firefighter and critical care paramedic with Mount Hope Fire Department. “It’s really affected our response times and the communities being able to have access to emergency medicine.”

State lawmakers were set to pass a House bill which would have given six million dollars to EMS and fire departments for recruitment and other services.

Both the House and Senate had approved the bill and it was on its way to the governor’s desk as the regular session neared its end.

Around 10 p.m. Saturday, March 11, 2023, the Senate voted to reconsider the bill, withdrawing it and then voting it down, Del. Todd Kirby (R, District 44) and Del. Elliot Pritt (D, District 50) said on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

Meanwhile, EMS workers said, the need for help continues.

“It really affects EMS response times, altogether, because you have a Mount Hope EMS truck, for example, responding sometimes clear down towards Page down near Montgomery, even,” said Williams “So our response times are greater than 20 minutes.”

EMS workers said they do not understand why medical care for their communities was not made a higher priority in Charleston.

“It’s really saddening, really,” said Austin Hamilton, an EMT and firefighter at Mount Hope Fire Department. “It’s a much-needed thing, and I think everybody around here would feel the same way.”