LANCASTER — Paramedics in Garrard County will begin to earn an amount that is more comparable to the paramedics in nearby counties, according to a decision made by the Garrard County Fiscal Court Monday night.
“We’re the lowest paid for an hour’s drive,” said EMS Director Stephanie Elam. She credits this as part of the reason the program has difficulty retaining paramedics. The Garrard program also is not able to offer some of the benefits neighboring counties can, such as full-coverage health insurance and dental insurance.
“We’ve almost reached crisis level,” Garrard County Judge Executive John Wilson said.
Without a paramedic on the truck, no one is even able to insert an I.V., Elam told the magistrates, which could hamper a patient’s safety. Wilson echoed that argument after the meeting, saying being able to find and keep paramedics would benefit the community as a whole.
“If you’re in a car wreck, and we don’t have a paramedic on-duty, there’s no one who can start an I.V., no one who can intubate. That’s really scary to me,” Wilson said.
Magistrates approved the pay scale, which pays all paramedics in Garrard based on their length of service in the county. Paramedics in their first year now will receive $11.15, and it will continue to rise 10 cents for every year of service as a paramedic.
According to Wilson, there is no set pay scale for paramedics. “It depends on the director they were hired under,”¿he said.
This is another reason Wilson and Elam wanted to go to a scale system, to ensure equality across the board. “This will make us more competitive with other counties,” Elam said.
She believes it will help during the next hiring process, when they will try to fill the two vacant paramedic positions. The search should begin in early 2013. “We will be able to get more qualified candidates,” Elam added.
The new scale will cost the court about $9,000. Wilson explained a similar system needed to be instituted with the EMTs, as well. However, that will have to wait, as that transition could cost another $20,000. Currently, it is not as large an issue, as “the market is saturated with good EMTs” right now, according to Wilson.