July 27, 2020 - Paramedic Program Committee Meeting

July 27, 2020   6:00 PM

Those in attendance were: Mayor Chuck Hawk, Clerk Kris King, Council Member Mike Schwab, Council Member Andrew Hess, Fire Chief Chris Colucy, Assistant Chief Jen Mohler, and Assistant Chief Mike Maybaugh.

The committee met this evening to discuss the staffing for the paramedic program. Chief Colucy would like to see 24/7 staffing of a paramedic including holidays. He stated ideally it would be better to have two on staff for all shifts because there are not enough people that show up for calls. Since June 1, 2020, they have had 131 calls and the same few people are making most the calls.  The chief explained the importance of response time. The chief did a rate study of the six area departments. He also explained that the departments that are doing the same number of calls as ours, all have 24/7 staffing. He stated he realizes this is going to take some time to get together and the wages will have to be figured out. He hopes that if we got it started now by the first the year, we would be able to have at least one-person 24/7/365.  Assistant Chief Maybaugh stated that Brewster, Beach City and Wilmot are the only Stark County departments that are not staffed. The chief stated that they couldn’t find enough people to staff paramedics 24/7 then he would like to see a paramedic and an EMT. He said you have to have two certified people to run a call, that’s the law. 

Chief Colucy brought up wages for the new hires in the program. He suggests we scale back on the wages. Any new hires would be at a lower rate to help us to stay within a budget. Another thing would be whether or not the paramedics would be able to fight fires. There was also a discussion on how many hours an individual could work before they were considered full-time. The goal of this program is to have one full-time person and the rest of the shifts be filled by part-time employees.

Clerk King discussed the budget and the funds. She reviewed the last three years of the funds in the EMS program. It was discussed what was paid for from which funds. Assistant Chief Mohler discussed the Atty. Gen. collecting funds. Clerk King also discussed concerns with the income tax and whether or not local businesses with people working from home that don’t live in the village would affect our funds in the fire income tax fund.

There was a discussion on the benefits of having a firefighter/paramedic instead of just the paramedic license. It was asked if a firefighter/paramedic would make more money. It was stated that they would make the same. Assistant Chief Maybaugh stated that our part time paramedics are one of the highest-paid in the area. The current wage ordinance was discussed. There are certain categories that our department currently does not use, it was asked if these categories should be removed. Safer grant was discussed. In order to apply for a safer grant you have to have everything set up before applying. There was a discussion on what happens when there is an ambulance call when the paramedics are already on the fire scene.

Chief Colucy discussed how they don’t have the volunteers like they did in the past. Assistant Chief Jen Mohler discussed how things have changed and people just don’t have the time.  She stated that when the program started the village was lucky, they had two volunteer firemen that worked for the village and were able to go on calls. Now the village only has one employee that’s on the department and he is now a department head and can’t always respond.

VA Mike Miller stated before we get this 24-hour program started, we need to look at where we are now. We have a levy coming up in November and we need to get that passed first. We need to look at the wages and decide whether it will be feasible to hire someone to do the same job at a different rate. Assistant Chief Jen Mohler stated that she needs to hire part-time paramedics now, they don’t have enough people to fill all the shifts. She would like to advertise for 4 to 6 more paramedics. Clerk King stated that the ordinance does not limit the number of employees hired as paramedics. Chief Colucy stated that there would have to be procedures limiting the number of people going out on calls once the department is fully staffed. A concern was mentioned that the department could lose volunteers because they would not have as many calls that they could go out on. Assistant Chief Maybaugh stated he thought many people would be happy because they wouldn’t always feel obligated to make the run. The department has trouble getting people out of the night calls even with the additional money for the night calls.

Clerk King stated the first step would probably be to set the wage. Assistant Chief Jen Mohler stated she would like to fill 4-6 positions in order to just get through the rest of this year. She stated she couldn’t guarantee them hours but would fill them in whenever they have an open shift. It was discussed that in order to change the wage, an ordinance would have to be passed. Assistant Chief Mohler stated she needed people now and the consensus was to start them according to the current ordinance at $16.83. Chief Colucy stated this would help when the program goes to 24/7 because they would already have some staff hired. Assistant Chief Maybaugh stated they would probably get more people applying if the starting wage is higher. The EMT rate is $12.08. Council Member Schwab brought up hiring an EMT for shifts. That brought up a discussion on the difference between an EMT and a paramedic. Assistant Chief Mohler described the difference in what they were allowed to do including pushing fluids. She stated if we were going to have to go outside the department to hire part-time staff that she would prefer that they be paramedics.

The funding was discussed. Council Member Schwab stated we need to keep the program separate from the fire department as far as the funding. It was discussed that that was the way the program was intended when it was started. At one point, the fire department was running so short and the EMS fund was doing well so money from the EMS fund was used help support the fire department. Mayor Schwab stated going 24/7 was going to take every penny we have coming in from the income tax money. Assistant Chief Maybaugh stated that’s how the levy was presented, for the building and staffing. Council Member Schwab stated it was also for equipment. Assistant Chief Maybaugh brought up discussing the contract rates with the townships. Chief Colucy stated he already has a meeting set up. Clerk King asked how many calls we run for other departments. Assistant Chief Jen Mohler stated not many. Her and Assistant Chief Maybaugh stated that Brewster picks up some of Beach City’s day calls and that Beach City picks up some of Brewster’s night calls. They also stated that hiring more paramedics is not going to cost the Village more money other than the preemployment testing. The new people will just be filling in shifts that already exist and cut down on Assistant Chief Mohler’s overtime. There was one week several months ago that Assistant Chief Mohler ended up working 40 hours overtime in order to cover all the shifts. She has since taken another part-time position with another department and is unable to cover those hours. Assistant Chief Maybaugh also brought up paying staff time and a half for working holidays. Mayor Hawk asked how many paramedics are on the department. Assistant Chief Jen Mohler stated there are seven paramedics that work part-time and there are an additional two that are on the volunteer side. Council Member Schwab asked how many showed up for calls. The numbers were reviewed. There is one paramedic that only showed up for one call this year according to Chief Colucy. Chief Colucy is very upset about it because now anytime someone wants to go to medic school this is going to be brought up. He claims that it is now between Council and that individual and that his hands are out of it. It was stated that if a person can only make 1 out of 399 calls, that person would not be a responsible part-time employee or do anything for the department. Other problems with staffing were discussed and what things would help remedy these situations. Assistant Chief Jen Mohler said if we decide to add more people, we would have to sit down and make some policies. It was discussed that sometimes the part-time paramedics are asked to work over at their full-time jobs and Assistant Chief Jen Mohler then has to scramble to find someone to fill the shift. It was stated that that should not be held against the person because the full-time position pays the bills and insurance. The wages came back up again and Assistant Chief Mohler stated she would like the new paramedics to be paid $16.83 per hour, the hours were already budgeted for that amount. Once the employee is hired at the $16.83, that will be their wage when additional staffing hours are added. Council Member Schwab suggested hiring fewer people until after the new rates are established. VA Miller suggested advertising for the positions, have a number in your head that you’d like, say three or four, and see what kind of applicants apply. Assistant Chief Jen Mohler stated the new hires will be told upfront that they can’t be guaranteed hours and the schedule will be filled according to seniority. Each part-time employee will be allowed to work a maximum of 24 hours a week.

Assistant Chief Jen Mohler asked since we were all together if she needed to answer any questions about the ProCare contract. Mayor Hawk stated were good now on that, Chief Colucy explained everything.

Mayor Hawk discussed the wages. He thinks we will get better quality people for the higher rate. He wants to pay the higher rate and get the better people. Clerk King said that if we’re going to advertise it shortly, we would have to pay the higher rate because that is how the ordinance reads. Assistant Chief Jen Mohler stated she feels that Brewster has always been a superb department because they’ve paid well.

Chief Colucy brought up the pumper grant. He stated he talked to the grant people and they have allowed other departments to upgrade the equipment they applied for. The department would have to pay the 5% of the grant amount awarded plus any difference in the price of the new vehicle. Chief Colucy thinks he should sit down with all the businesses and the school and discuss getting a ladder truck. He described the benefits they saw using a ladder truck during the recent railroad fire and how much better they were able to fight the fire with the ladder truck. He knows that there are reservations concerning asking anyone to donate for the truck, but the businesses are the only ones that would truly benefit from the equipment. The discussion moved on to a grant for turnout gear after which the meeting adjourned at 7:21.


Kris King, Clerk-Treasurer