LOWELLVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – A nationwide shortage of first responders continues to grow. The impact locally is even bigger, since the Mahoning Valley has lost four ambulance companies.

The latest community to express concern about the shortage is Lowellville. Chief Al Boggia with the Lowellville Fire Department believes more people need to know the right time to call an ambulance, and not just tie one up for a non-emergency. He has a roster of 26, so staffing is usually tight.

“What’s really hurting is the EMS. We don’t have fires every day, but we have medicals almost every day. That’s where everybody’s hurting,” Boggia said. “So it’s hit and miss. So where we miss calls is Monday through Friday, during the day when nobody’s around and we’re all helping each other out.”

Fire departments are working together on the situation. Sometimes they’re pairing people with different departments to make a call.

Boggia says the average age of a volunteer firefighter in the state is 52. It’s only ten years younger for a full-time person. The younger people just aren’t coming in.

“But the problem we have now is just everybody’s schedules. Some of them have young kids. They can’t just drop their kids when there’s a call,” Boggia said.

Being a first responder is a commitment. It takes time, and most of the time it’s for little money. That is another problem that Lowellville and other communities are trying to address.

“I could do this for $16 an hour or, you know, miss my holidays, missed my weekends or I can go make fries for $17,” Boggia said.

WKBN 27 First News reported in July about a discussion just beginning on a possible county-wide EMS service. That’s still going to take time and is still a long way into the future.