Emergency medical technicians Monday said state ambulance services could be reduced to unsafe levels unless legislators provide additional ambulance funding this year.
Rodney Johnson, executive director of the Medic Institute, said injured or sick people in several rural areas of the state - including along the Interstate 44 corridor - already often wait up to an hour and a half for ambulance services.
"This is the number one public health risk that no one is talking about," said Johnson, an emergency medical technician.
Johnson said his group has been asking legislators to divert $6.2 million from a state Health Department fund for trauma centers to help pay for maintaining existing ambulance service levels and additional emergency medical technician training.
Without the money, ambulance coverage will get worse than it already is, Johnson said.
Johnson also criticized two bills working their way through the Legislature dealing with allowing people who are not emergency medical technicians to work in ambulances.
He said the bills would make ambulance patients less safe.
Senate Joint Resolution 10 would allow people who do not have emergency medical technician training to drive ambulances in communities with a population of less than 5,000. It is awaiting consideration by the full Senate.
House Bill 1419 would allow nurses to accompany patients on ambulances without the presence of an emergency medical technician when patients are being transferred between hospitals.
It is awaiting consideration by the full House.