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EMS chief urges community to mask up

Hires paramedics to help with vaccinations

MILL HALL — As COVID cases are rising, Lock Haven EMS is telling the community that masks work and the science is there to back it up.

Lock Haven Emergency Medical Services Chief Gerard Banfill spoke at Monday’s meeting of the Bald Eagle Township supervisors about the second rising of the pandemic with the new Delta variant, causing concern for children, both those vaccinated and those not vaccinated.

He said Lock Haven EMS has recently hired two new paramedics in order to help with vaccinations in Clinton County.

“We have just hired two new paramedics to help with the ramping up of the second swarm of pandemic coming through. It is here and the Delta variant is very significant… more so for the children. I listen to the Secretary of State, Urban Health, and any of the people educating us involving the issue,” Banfill said.

New clinics will begin setting up once again for those needing vaccinations, along with proposed new testing procedures with a smaller q-tip sizes. Banfill said that the new tests “will be less aggressive for children,” unlike the previous tests with longer q-tips that are lodged farther up the nasal cavity. He said they are respectively going to “test, test, test” and continue reiterating the concern of masking and the scientific nature of how much they protect the wearer and those around.

“We saw last fall and so far this year, that it is very controversial, but the masks work, people. You do not go into a nursing home or a hospital and find that there is a nurse or a doctor without one. You would not go into surgery without masks, so why would you go visit your grandma in a nursing home without one? The science is there that the masks work,” he said.

Banfill said he plans to visit other municipalities and urge masks and vaccinations, but started with Bald Eagle Township because more than 60 percent of the EMS’ calls are in that township.

Along with updating the community about the concerns of the Delta variant, Banfill also enlightened the supervisors about new training that Lock Haven EMS will provide. Partnering with Keystone Central and the Adult Ed Program, Lock Haven EMS will offer their first EMS training in 12 years this fall.

“Our program will be a build-a-bridge so to speak. We will start out with CPR training, then we are going to do first responder training, and then EMT training. If someone wants to go even further, we have partnered with Penn State Fayette which offers a paramedic training program. We are also working with Lock Haven University to try to get some new police trainees through the ACT 120 program,” Banfill explained.

Lock Haven University, according to Banfill, will be offering the testing site for new trainees in fire, EMT, police, etc. Modules will also be implemented with supported fire companies to give the necessary training basics for fire volunteers as they walk through the door. He said the modules will help create new legal crews for the fire systems in the area.

“We are going to sponsor 10 students into the program with other foundations we are currently searching for. We want it so that it will be a zero cost to the students coming in for training. It is not about making money here, it is about making jobs for people who want to help fight fires and save lives,” he explained.

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