Brunswick County to add eight new EMS positions to keep up with call increase
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - More people moving to Brunswick County means an increased workload for many industries in the area. First responders are no different.
Over the summer, Brunswick County EMS said crews were responding to 70 to 80 calls a day — a significant increase from the 50 calls they were responding to each day four years ago.
“We’ve had increased days where we struggle to keep coverage throughout the county but through all that, our response times have been under average, or under our goal,” said Emergency Services Director Ed Conrow.
Calls for help are becoming more frequent as people move to and visit the area more often.
At the current growth rate, the county expects to see a 14 percent increase in calls each year. This year alone, EMS crews will have responded to an additional 3,000 calls. With that in mind, leaders want to be sure crews can keep up.
“We requested funding for two additional paramedic trucks at a peak load level, so that means trucks staffed for 12 hours during high load periods,” said Conrow.
That request included eight new full-time positions on top of the six positions already needing to be filled. It’s a tall order in an era of staffing shortages, but leaders say it can be done.
“Nationally, there’s an issue with staffing for EMS,” said Board of Commissioners Chair Randy Thompson. “That is one of the things that our administration and our EMS will be looking at to determine if we need to restructure our staffing.”
“It’s going to be a recruiting process, getting out into the community colleges, the ones that are producing paramedics and EMTs right now,” said Conrow.
It’ll cost the county between $700,000 and $800,000 — but commissioners are simply happy that emergency services are getting ahead of the increase before it puts someone’s safety in jeopardy.
“[Emergency Services is] carrying the load and doing everything in Brunswick County as expected. Not only that, but [they’re] looking at a long-term solution and that’s why [they’re] here before us today,” said Commissioner Marty Cooke.
”I’m glad [they’re] getting ahead of this before those numbers get to where less responsive jurisdictions are,” said Commissioner Frank Williams.
This comes just two and a half years after the county severed ties with other area rescue squads. At the time, Brunswick County said the decision was made largely due to the county’s budget, saying they would be able to provide EMS to the serviced areas themselves for much less. Thompson added that those agencies were not responding to every call while the county always sent units despite the other agencies’ involvement.
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