03/10/06 — Officials worried about losing emergency medical personnel

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Officials worried about losing emergency medical personnel

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 10, 2006 1:53 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Duplin County is losing emergency medical personnel to surrounding counties because they can make more elsewhere, county officials say.

The county has already lost four, Emergency Medical Service Director Curtis Brock said.

"Eight months ago, we were competitive," he said.

Brock said there's a shortage of paramedics east of I-95, and the other counties have been giving raises during the past six months. Onslow was first, with a $2 an hour raise, followed by Lenoir, then Pender. Sampson is in negotiations with a private company for emergency medical service.

"It's left us in the dust," Brock said. "I see a problem coming down the road."

He said it's not so bad with the new paramedics fresh out of school. But the lure of more money is too appealing for those with more experience, said Brock, who is trying to walk the fine line between paying full-timers overtime and paying to hire and train new paramedics.

Onslow pays $15.47 an hour for paramedic service. Lenoir pays $14.50. Duplin pays $13.01.

"Wayne would not even disclose what they pay their paramedics," he said. "They wanted a written request from our county manager to their county manager."

Duplin is behind other counties in what is paid to intermediate emergency medical technicians at 68-cents an hour less and about 25-cents short of what the others pay basic EMTs.

A basic EMT can fix splints, do CPR and control hemorrhage. An intermediate EMT can also administer intravenous fluids. A paramedic can give cardiac drugs, record heart rhythms, pace the heart and perform a variety of treatments on trauma patients.