Governor’s Signature Supports Delaware’s Volunteer Emergency Responders

Cheswold – Joined by members of the General Assembly and volunteer firefighters at Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company today to recognize Delawareans who provide life support services, Governor Markell signed into law three bills to help ensure volunteer ambulance and fire companies have the financial support to continue to serve the state to the best of their abilities.

The legislation addresses findings of the Ambulance and EMS Funding Task Force that was created in 2013 and examined the outlook of emergency services in Delaware, finding that “the public may begin to see diminished ambulance service in as little as 8 to 12 months, if steps are not taken promptly to meet the funding need.”

"No one wants to think about being in a situation that requires help from our emergency responders, but we have a responsibility to ensure Delawareans have access to ambulance and EMS life support services," said Governor Markell. "Today, we take an important step forward in sustaining our volunteer ambulance and fire companies."

The bills signed included:

  • Senate Bill 207, sponsored by Senator Bruce Ennis (D-Smyrna), requires that Delaware health insurance policies cover the cost of every ambulance run and the basic life support provided by a volunteer ambulance company.
  • House Bill 315, sponsored by Representative William Carson (D-Smyrna), establishes a Volunteer Ambulance Company Fund, administered by the State Fire Prevention Commission and funded through a $10 assessment on all motor vehicle violations under Title 21 of the Delaware Code.
  • House Bill 317, also sponsored by Rep. Carson, increases from 0.15% to 0.21% the share of the gross premium tax already paid by health insurance companies to be distributed to volunteer fire companies.

“Our emergency services needed help, so the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association and we in the General Assembly teamed together and got the job done,” said Rep. Carson, a past chief of Citizens Hose Co. in Smyrna. “These men and women come to our aid whenever they are called, and it was our duty to help them when they needed it most.”

In addition to being the lead sponsor of one of the bills, Sen. Ennis was co-chairman of the Ambulance and EMS Funding Task Force which specifically found a statewide $8.6 million operating deficit for EMS companies and Ennis said the new laws will help tackle those challenges.

“We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we are taking a good first step that I think will help end that deficit,” Ennis said. “I think this is really going to help our emergency medical service.”