08-06-03: Some Mercer County EMS squads
seek pay hike
|By TIMOTHY COX
The Daily Standard
Some of Mercer County's volunteer emergency medical squad members want
a pay raise they believe would make the job more financially palatable to them and to
potential new recruits.
Squads in St. Henry and Coldwater, where daytime staffing shortages are
fairly common, have sought an increase through the Mercer County Emergency Medical Service
(EMS). Rockford's volunteer squad would presumably receive any pay raise, too.
Rockford Mayor Bob King mentioned the issue at this week's village
"Do the volunteers deserve a pay raise? Yes, I think they
do," said Steve Beougher, coordinator of the county EMS. "Whether that will
solve the problem, I don't know."
A March 27 Daily Standard story detailed the challenges local officials
face in finding volunteers. Paramedics need more than 120 hours of training to get started
and then must meet state continuing education requirements after that, all for modest pay.
With many volunteers also holding full-time jobs and juggling family responsibilities, the
demands of being on-call as a squad member can be taxing.
Volunteer squad members now get $50 per ambulance run. Any increase
would be absorbed by the village and township governments that support the EMS system with
per capita payments. The local governments would have to authorize any changes in the pay
The villages and townships now pay $1.97 per resident to support the
EMS. Money also is raised through patient fees. The EMS can legally raise the per capita
rate to $2.97 without government approval because that rate already was voted on in
previous years but rolled back by the EMS, Beougher said.
But the $2.97 per capita rate might not cover the cost of pay raises
for volunteers. There have been some suggestions that the pay should be tripled, Beougher
"The local governments would bear the brunt of that," he
Negotiations on pay hikes are preliminary, Beougher said, and some
creative ideas to deal with the situation are being pitched. Among the proposals are
adding some sort of retirement account to the job or giving squad volunteers a break on
The matter will have to be discussed among the squads and local
government leaders before any changes are made, Beougher said.
The Celina units of the EMS would not be affected by any changes. Those
paramedics and emergency medical technicians are hourly employees, not volunteers.
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