Del. county paying $1.4M in overtime due to paramedic shortage
New Castle County said the overtime is high because there are not enough paramedics to handle the growing call volume
By EMS1 Staff
NEW CASTLE COUNTY, Del. — New Castle County officials said they are being forced to pay a large sum in overtime due to the shortage of paramedics and growing call volume.
Delaware Online reported that the county paid $1.4 million in overtime in 2017 because they do not have enough paramedics, a problem that officials say won’t be fixed any time soon because of the way the state budgets their funding.
Chief Larry Tan said he asked for 12 new positions in 2017, but was denied because the state was not willing to give up more funding.
"We're to a point where we need some help in the field," Chief Tan said. "We have a tradition of excellence and, quite frankly, we do not want to see that degrade."
"You have a paramedic service that is very stressed," former Chief Executive Officer Kathy Jennings said. "We really need to make sure we're fiscally responsible and that we take into account saving lives and public safety.”
The Delaware paramedic services were created in 1990 with a 60 percent reimbursement plan, but now the state only funds 24 percent of the budgets.
New Castle County officials added that their call volume has increased from 24,000 in 2005 to nearly 37,000 in 2017, with only a population increase of 17,500.
"It's an underfunded mandate," county executive Matthew Meyer said. "This is in a world where the expertise of a paramedic is increasing, therefore the salary and wages and benefits of a paramedic are, rightfully, increasing."