HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — National EMS Week runs from May 21 through May 27. Members of the CT EMS Advisory Board are taking the week of recognition as an opportunity to ask lawmakers to help service providers.

The group gathered Wednesday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford to discuss issues facing first responders. One main concern is a lack of reimbursement for services.

“Reimbursement rates are significantly lower than what it costs us to do business, so we transport patients, or we respond to calls, a lot of the time, we’re not making enough money to cover the cost of that response,” William Schietinger, the regional director for AMR Connecticut said. “The Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements rates are so low, we have ambulance services shutting their doors in the state.”

EMTs and paramedics demonstrated a call for cardiac arrest to show how much work goes into an EMS response. Two of the demonstrators were Greg Shovak and Edward Basigalup, both EMTs in Hartford for American Medical Response (AMR). They told News 8 that a call for cardiac arrest would only receive reimbursement if an individual is transported. This means the providers are footing the bill for the resources and equipment used during the call.

Another issue plaguing EMS is a lack of staff.

“Since COVID, it’s become harder and harder to get people to come into this industry, and the financial strains definitely add to that as well,” Shovak said.

“It’s a very difficult field to work in. There’s plenty of people that would like to do it, but unfortunately, there’s only so many resources that we’re allowed,” Basigalup said.

Additional reimbursement from the state would help organizations retain and recruit staff.