(WHTM) – One of the lasting side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a shortage of microchips. It’s affected everything from computers to video games and vehicles and is adding additional stress on Midstate first responders.
The shortage has been improving since the pandemic, but it’s not over. Microchips are a critical component in phones, appliances, ambulances, and so much more. Many Midstate departments have been waiting a long time to get the new ones they’ve ordered.
This is an understatement for the Cumberland Goodwill EMS. It has been two years since they ordered two new ambulances and are still waiting to get them.
“It’s very difficult to be an ambulance company without an ambulance,” said Nathan Harig, the assistant chief of the Cumberland Goodwill EMS. “It’s just something in the supply chain that we didn’t think we would have to worry about but for the past couple of years, we’ve been dealing with.”
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Ambulances are filled with microchips that run all the bells, whistles, and sirens.
“Until you have that front part of the ambulance, that chassis where the chip goes, you really can’t do anything else, so we’ve kind of been in a holding pattern with them,” Harig added.
Lancaster EMS is facing the same alarming wait times for the four ambulances they ordered in 2021.
Susquehanna Township EMS wants to add more ambulances to its fleet.
“We’re in the process of looking at vehicles,” said Don Kunst, executive director for the Susquehanna Township EMS. “I’ve already reached out to all of the big line manufacturers and they’re essentially giving us all the same information, 12 to 18 months out at least if you want to order one.”
Before the pandemic, wait times were much shorter.
“That was 90 to 120 days of ordering time. That means we need to keep vehicles on the road longer, higher maintenance costs, and of course, our budgets are affected by those things in the end too, it varies from industry to industry,” Kunst said.
According to Penn State University finance professor Friborz Ghadar, the microchip shortage is easing up.
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“Appliances and electronics are slowly getting better, but what is not getting better is automotive,” said Ghadar. “That’s because an automobile just has so many different kinds of chips in it and they could have 95 percent of the chips they need but not the five of them they absolutely need, and then the car just sits there without that capability.”
Ghadar also said he’s optimistic the microchip shortages in the automotive field will improve as we head into next year.