SHEPHERDSVILLE - Magistrates had three choices - to fill five vacancies in the Bullitt County Emergency Medical Services, to not fill the positions and face even more overtime hours or to not fill the positions, cut down on overtime and remove an ambulance from coverage during a shift.
When Bullitt Fiscal Court members heard the options, their decision was made much easier.
The court members voted 4-1 to fill the five vacancies, which would help decrease some overtime hours and would keep five ambulances and two paramedic cars on the streets 24/7.
When the original request was made, EMS director Mike Phillips had not yet arrived at the fiscal court meeting. County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts’ motion to approve filling the five vacancies failed to get a second.
The issue was revived later when Phillips arrived.
In the budget, Phillips said there was funding for 48 employees and the department had been running five short for some time. And he believes he will be losing a couple of more in the coming months.
With the missing staff, Phillips admitted that overtime hours are extreme; however, he said there is really no alternative.
Even with a full staff, Phillips said there would always be overtime with some employees on vacation, call in sick or be off on some type of medical leave. And with the 12-hour shifts, there is already planned overtime built into the budget and the schedules.
Phillips said the overtime would drop with the addition of the five employees but he would not eliminate it.
The alternative to filling the five vacancies would be to pull a truck off the street during the third shift. Based on volume of runs, that would probably be the unit stationed at the Bullitt County Fairgrounds.
Magistrate John Bradshaw, whose district includes the southern coverage area, said he didn’t want the county to lose a truck during a shift.
At the same time, he wasn’t in favor of working people too long each shift because of safety concerns.
Someone in the audience gave a similar sentiment.
Phillips said it is a concern when medical personnel work more than 12 hours at a time. He understood the fatigue factor with emergency personnel.
With the approval of the fiscal court, Phillips will begin the hiring process.
New EMTs will make $10.25 per hour with a raise of 50 cents after six months.