The Pulaski County Council members took a giant step last night to help keep paramedics and EMS staff members in the county.
EMS Director Nikki Lowry previously pleaded with the county council to help retain her staff as they are leaving for higher pay in surrounding counties. The turnover rate is very high. She asked that a committee get together and aid her in restructuring pay in the EMS budget.
Council members Linda Powers and Tom Roth, along with Commission President Larry Brady, recently convened a committee to discuss EMS wages. They also discussed ways to keep members with EMS. They brought their ideas to the council last night.
At the request of Linda Powers, Lowry gave the council members a spreadsheet of wages and hours to give an outlook of what type of pay would be considered fair for an increase. Lowry gave the council members the “worst case” scenario of all current staff members. That data was presented at the maximum in terms of hours, holidays and overtime that came to $281,433.
The council members agreed to advertise for an additional appropriation in that amount to allow Lowry to offer her staff an incentive to stay with the department. The increase will also initially help attract paramedics to work in Pulaski County. Council President Jay Sullivan said that the county has a great benefits package that should also entice EMS workers to come to Pulaski County.
Council member Michael Tiede commented that it’s an issue of public safety. The council came to the conclusion that the county has to be willing to spend money to give county residents peace of mind that the county is covered with emergency medical staff.
With this step, the council will now look to Lowry to crunch more numbers to see what will fund a department of which she sees as an ideal department. They want to look at the number of paramedics and part-time staff needed to make a well-rounded department to cover shifts. That data will be brought before the council at a future meeting.