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by Patty Cheffey
Marion County Ambulance District paramedics and EMTs will be getting a raise, following action by the board last week.
The MCAD board approved a $1 an hour raise for both groups of employees during their meeting, at which they also discussed community health paramedicine and heard a report from Chief John Nemes
In addition, the board set the pension tax rate at $.0477 per $100 assessed valuation and rolled back the operating tax rate to zero.
It will cost the ambulance district around $112,000 to do the pay raises. He requested and got approval to pay off the truck loans and use those funds to assist in paying for the raises.
In addition, the district will also take some funds out of their reserve account.
With the increase, the base pay for EMTs will be $17 an hour and for paramedics $21 an hour.
Dot Lake, board president, said she would like to see more than a $4 difference in pay because of the added responsibilities of paramedics, but agreed the board could reevaluate the pay scale in six months.
Nemes noted that while other districts may pay more, they do not have the benefits and special programs that Marion County offers.
In other business, Nemes reported he and four other employees will be attending the EMS World Expo in New Orleans where their focus will be on new equipment and training options, specifically those geared towards critical care and community health paramedicine.
“The community health paramedicine is something we’re wanting to get into,” he said, noting it will mean specifically trained personnel will be able to consult with a patient’s physician in the field and hopefully take care of the situation right there.
“The hospitals are on board because it should mean fewer visits,” said Nemes, noting that with physicians approval, the attending ambulance personnel will be able to handle prescriptions too.
Lake noted it is well worth getting into that area.
“It will be something to see,” she said. “It’s the future, and we need to embrace it.”
Both medicare and medicaid are also on board, Nemes said.
In his report, Nemes said four employees have been promoted: Eli Bell to captain; and Sarah Steffan, Jason Darnell and Donald Whitaker to training officers to fill the vacancy created when Kyle Bowman left the district.
“Each one brings experience in different disciplines and the combined experience will be used to train our employees in more advanced treatments and critical care,” said Nemes of the new training officers.
He also reported he had met with several agencies and the railroad about keeping local intersections in Hannibal open during train delays.
“This is particularly a concern with public safety as construction on the Third Street overpass will limit access to the south side of town for up to a year,” said Nemes, noting the railroad said they would do what they can to keep intersections open when a train is stopped.
The district is still waiting for the siding contractor for the Administrative Building, but when they do get the siding, the plans are to remove a window and install a mini-split in the server room to keep it cooler there.
MCAD and the hospital staff have discussed the transfer of patients on a 96-hour hold since due to change, law enforcement can’t provide transportation, Nemes said.
MCAD and Ralls County Ambulance District will handle the transfer as long as safety criteria is met to protect the district employees, Nemes said, noting about 20 percent of the call volume is for patients with mental health issues.
Nemes also reported additions to the new website for employees and calls for the district during July.
The board also approved the code of ethics.