Long-time concerns of poor EMS working conditions brought to council, higher pay in future


Much needed money is about to get pumped into some life-saving services. Richland County Council is setting aside millions of dollars to upgrade the the county's embattled EMS services, which has been rocked by controversy in recent months. More than a year ago, Richland County Councilman Seth Rose started getting complaints from county EMS workers about poor working conditions.

"People are leaving for higher paying jobs in other counties. We can't have that if we want to attract the best and keep the best. Department morale has been low and that's been clear," says Rose.

He says things like long response times, management issues, under-staffing, and lack of funding were all brought to his attention. Rose says workers were told issues like those would be addressed but nothing ever changed. The situation came to head in August when a county administrator resigned after telling EMS workers they could commit suicide if working conditions were so bad.

Now council members have taken action and are passing a motion this week to pump more money into EMS services. By January 1, Rose says roughly $2.5 million will be spent on equipment, including ambulances, and new positions. Current employees will also see a 5 percent increase in their paychecks by December.

"When we have someone in dire need of medical attention,we need to make sure we have the best, the brightest responding, that they have the tools needed to save a life," says Rose.

A written report by EMS Director Mike Byrd will be presented next Tuesday to county council so they can get their questions answered. Rose says he'll be pushing for 24-48 EMS positions to be added.

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