Fort Fairfield Fire and EMS service ambulances. Credit: Courtesy of the town of Fort Fairfield

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It’s heartbreaking to hear about the recent struggles of our emergency medical services personnel. We’re hearing of hospitals not getting needed ambulances, overworked EMTs because of severe staffing shortages and more calls coming in than the resources needed to answer them.

And the situation has only gotten worse with the state mandates for COVID-19 vaccines.

A LifeFlight helicopter was   grounded for days when Machias Ambulance’s three EMTs had to tend to four injured people when their car hit a tree in Whiting, leaving a volunteer firefighter to drive the ambulance to the waiting helicopter. Unfortunately, he pulled up too close and damaged one of its rotor blades.

An October crash in Bar Harbor involving two cars and five people left three EMS providers with only one available ambulance to work with. One person died.

In Fort Fairfield,   eight personnel quit the fire department instead of being forced to get the vaccine.

Earlier this year, Waldoboro EMS had already lost one worker to the mandate, and expected to lose two more  and to have to shut down service for a weekend. Likewise, Buckfield Rescue also expected to lose three due to the mandate. Wales Rescue   lost three in total — one to retirement and two to the mandate.

Not wanting to deal with the staffing issues, the town of Woodstock   disbanded its first responder program altogether in October.

While our first responders should be commended for their hard work and dedication, staffing shortages have plagued EMS units for years. It stands to reason — and the evidence clearly shows — the vaccine mandates have only made matters worse.

Sen. Marianne Moore

Calais