A committee will look into wages and salaries in the coming weeks in Pulaski County.
EMS Director Nikki Lowry begged the Pulaski County Council for help as she cannot keep staff in her department. She said she is in desperate need for paramedics, but the county’s wages and benefits don’t entice potential applicants to work with the county. According to Lowry, first-year staff members don’t get any extra time off.
Lowry said EMTs with basic life service experience are applying, but she needs paramedics to properly staff the ambulance trucks. The third ambulance is back in the fleet, and she can’t find the help needed to keep it in service.
Two more medics have left the county, and Lowry is struggling to keep schedules with medics.
Paramedic Lewis Matzat explained the issue that EMS is experiencing.
“We do get a lot of overtime. We’re on a 24 (hours) on, 48 off basis, which over three weeks we’ll get 48 hours, 60 hours and 60 hours. That does help boost our salary. Unfortunately, the counties surrounding us they’re only working 48 hours a week. Ultimately by the end of the year, we’re working an extra 18, 24-hour shifts. That’s 432 hours, and we’re still falling short $3,000 in our yearly salary,” explained Matzat.
Council President Jay Sullivan suggested that a week off be offered to EMS staff members, and they should get the pay for that week. The workers now take extra days off to get a full week off which results in a short paycheck.
Sullivan suggested reviving a committee to review wages and salaries. Linda Powers and Tom Roth from the county council volunteered to be on the committee. Commission President Larry Brady also volunteered to be on the committee, pending commissioner approval. A recommendation will be discussed after the group meets.