FREE e-scribe now!

This week’s edition!

Making Sure We Support Our First Responders

 Guest Column by Sen. Ned Claxton

AUGUSTA, ME (September 2, 2022) — It’s hard to believe that we are approaching the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on our nation. I know for me and so many other Americans, we can remember right where we were when we heard the news. Many of us sat there glued to our televisions, struggling to grasp the reality of the situation. It was a dark day for our country – nearly 3,000 people perished. We were shaken to our core. Among the pain that was felt, both by loved ones of the victims but also by Americans as a whole, there were those who made heroic efforts that day to save as many people as possible. These first responders displayed a truly remarkable amount of courage. On Sunday, Sept. 11, I will be attending the Auburn Fire Department’s ceremony honoring these heroes, as I have done for years. This is always a solemn but special ceremony, and I would encourage you to join if you’re able. It will take place at 8:15 a.m. at 550 Minot Ave. in Auburn.

In the Legislature, my colleagues and I know how critical our first responders and EMS personnel are, and we have worked to support them and help resolve the longstanding issues they face. One of the toughest issues is the workforce shortage, and while it’s hardly limited to EMS departments in Maine, the stakes are much higher when we can’t find folks to be there for us in our most dire times of need. Rural Maine communities have struggled the most with this in recent years, and despite EMS workers going above and beyond, working long hours and doing all they can to serve the community, we simply can’t get around the fact that we need more people in this profession.

One new law we passed this year established a new Blue Ribbon Commission to examine these issues. The commission, which had its first meeting on Sept. 1, will look for ways we can ensure EMS services are available to all Mainers, attract workers, improve workforce development, and more. There’s no doubt that these are complicated issues with no one simple solution, but by getting lawmakers, advocates and EMS personnel in a room together to discuss them, I’m hopeful that we will come away with recommendations that will make a real difference. 

Another new law we passed this year established a grant program for communities across Maine to plan for the future of EMS services in their area. Again, the workforce shortage is a huge issue. One disturbing statistic shows that Maine EMS departments have lost over 20 percent of personnel since 2013. This grant program will allow a department to plan for long term sustainability in a process known as “Informed Community Self-Determination.” This is where experts in rural EMS delivery work with local service providers in order to look at the department’s strengths, weaknesses, challenges and prospects for the future to become sustainable in the long term. That information is then shared with the folks in the community as a whole, so everyone can be knowledgeable about the current state of the department and be involved in shaping steps to move forward. We need to plan for the future and this new grant program will help us do that.

EMS providers do incredible, heroic work on a daily basis and are vital members of our community. However, they have been overworked, and faced too many challenges on their own without enough support. My colleagues and I are working hard to change that reality, so these folks can do their job, and Mainers can know that someone will be there to help when they have an emergency. I’m proud of the progress we were able to make in the last year.

As always, don’t hesitate to contact me by email at or by phone at (207) 287-1515.  

Leave a Reply

Contact Us!

89 Union Street, Suite 1014
Auburn, ME 04210
(207) 795-5017