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Collier EMS says it needs more first responders to keep up with volume

EMS asking county for 12 additional workers
Posted at 7:00 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 05:40:54-04

NAPLES, Fla. — Collier County Emergency Medical Services says it needs more paramedics and EMTs to take the pressure off its staff as the county continues its rapid growth.

EMS officials say they need 12 additional full-time employees to continue to respond to emergencies throughout the county. The volume of emergency calls EMS receives has gone up 14 percent over the past two years.

Right now, these paramedics and EMTs are working overtime to cover the demand. Last year EMS employees worked 79,455 hours of overtime combined — which cost Collier County more than $2.6 million.

Adding 12 new full-time workers would cost the county $1.2 million in wages.

EMS chief Tabatha Butcher said that adding staff would help alleviate the stress put on her current first responders.

“Since they do have to backfill those vacancies with overtime, that’s additional time that they have to put on the road in addition to their 24-hour shift,” Butcher said. “Some of them may be asked to stay up to 48 hours to cover those vacancies.”

Paramedic Michael Fejes said that leads to a lot of stress.

“With 48-hour shifts, those can be long and those can be stressful,” Fejes said. “We always maintain a high level of care, but 48 hours is a long period. Bringing in fresher crews will allow us to provide even better care.”

The Collier County commissioners will vote on adding the 12 EMS positions at Tuesday’s meeting. If the full-time jobs are approved, EMS hopes to have the 12 new employees in place by October.