HARRISBURG, Pa. (ErieNewsNow) - Today, the 13th annual Emergency Medical Services (EMS) memorial service took place at the State Capitol. Since 2011, the Pennsylvania EMS Provider Foundation has read the names of all emergency medical personnel who’ve lost their lives while serving the Commonwealth.  

Family members, friends and EMTs from across the state remembered and honored the selfless sacrifices of the honorees.  

“The work that EMS professionals perform is noble. It matters to the sick and injured. It matters to your communities. It matters to our Commonwealth,” said Doug Wolfberg, an EMS attorney and advocate. 

Wolfberg says the annual ceremony provides an opportunity to think about the lives impacted by each fallen hero.  

“Imagine, if you would, the worlds that were saved because these heroes lived. Imagine the families who were spared the pain of the loss of their loved ones because of what these EMS professionals did in their lives,” said Wolfberg. “There is pain in loss, and when it simply refuses to ebb, we can remember the sorrow and suffering that these honored providers prevented,” he added. 

The events that unfolded 22 years ago make today’s ceremony even more impactful, and the call to action, even more significant.  

“We have not only a responsibility to remember, but we have a call to action to fill the ranks of those that have fallen,” said state Rep. Mark Gillen (R-Berks). “We're struggling with personnel needs in emergency medical services. We need to stand tall. We need to provide the finances. We need to be shoulder to shoulder with our first responders,” he added. 

Many EMS agencies have been generating less revenue than they need to operate each year. State lawmakers say the funding shortfall has led several EMS agencies to close, including three in the last three months.  

“Unlike other first responders, they rely entirely on ambulance reimbursements, donations and other creative ways to raise money. And that is just not a sustainable way to survive,” said state Sen. Katie Muth (D-Berks/Chester/Montgomery).