Slow response times and shortages of paramedics is creating a looming crisis for ambulance services across the region.

In Howland Township, leaders are preparing to ask voters for more funding to support the township's ambulances. Right now, the fire department is operating with a $300,000 deficit, which presents financial challenges moving forward.

Howland Township Fire Chief James Pantalone says an aging population is the major contributing factor in the increase in call volume.

"Unfortunately, in the last few years, we've been dealing with this heroin epidemic and disease issues. We've seen a little uptick on that, but predominately it's medical emergencies, aging population responses," Pantalone said.

Instead of relying on private providers, the township started its own EMS program a few years ago and ended its mutual aid agreement to also respond to calls in the city of Warren.

"We were spending time responding to calls in Warren, and our residents were not getting served by the employees and equipment that they were paying for with their taxes," said Matthew Vansuch, Howland Township Trustee.

Over the last three years, the township saw an average of 200 to 250 more medical calls each year. Which the increase in call volume, Chief Pantalone believes now is the time to add a fourth ambulance. 

If voters approve a 2.25 mill levy in November, the station will hire three more firefighter-paramedics, expand hours at its third fire station on Ridge Road to operate 24/7 and will put another ambulance on the road for emergencies.

"What we're seeing is that the alternative system, the private system, is not working for our neighbors, it's not working particularly well in Mahoning County, so our model, which is reliant on the public system, is working very well," Vansuch said.