CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM)- One of the lasting side-effects of the COVID pandemic has been a shortage of microchips. It’s affected everything from computers and video games to vehicles, appliances, and ambulances.
“It’s very difficult to be an ambulance company without an ambulance,” said Assistant Chief Nathan Harig of Cumberland Goodwill EMS.
Two years ago, Cumberland Goodwill EMS ordered two new ambulances. Two years later, the department is still waiting for them to arrive.
“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,” said Harig.
Ambulances are computers on wheels filled with microchips running all the bells and whistles.
“Until you have that front part of the ambulance, where the chip goes, you really can’t do anything else so we’ve kind of been in a holding pattern with them,” said Harig.
Lancaster EMS is facing the same alarming wait times. The department ordered four ambulances in 2021, and the estimated delivery is expected to be another year or later.
Susquehanna Township EMS in Dauphin County wants to add more ambulances to its fleet.
“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,” said Executive Director Dun Kunst of Susquehanna Township EMS.
Before the pandemic, an estimated wait time was typically 90 to 120 days.
“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,” said Kunst.
The chip shortage has made improvements over the past few years.
“Appliances and electronics are slowly getting better, but what is not improving is automotive,” said Finance Professor Fariborz Ghadar of Penn State University.