CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County is growing rapidly, and with more people in the area there is a larger need for emergency medical services.
Charleston County EMS Director David Abrams said they need more resources to keep up with that growth.
“Charleston County geography has always been challenging for any public service agency, especially when it comes to responding to the entire county and all municipalities within the county,” Abrams said. “Added to that, the great growth in the area with the increase in population; we’ve seen 15% increase in the last 10 years, and we anticipate another 15 or more increase in the next 10 years up to 2030.”
Abrams said the goal is to attract good talent and hire more people assigned to ambulances, as well as adding more ambulances.
Right now, the department is looking to fill 13 paramedic vacancies, but looking to the future their goal is to have 84 FTE’s or full-time equivalents in the next 18 to 24 months.
“Particularly with EMS, there is a national shortage of paramedics and EMTS. The citizens deserve a way for us to provide the service even with those challenges,” Abrams said. “We’re working on having some solutions to that which include a lot of factors, but one of those is pay and making sure we’re compensating our work force that’s not just competitive but aggressive to make sure that we can maintain that service to the citizens.”
Charleston County EMS is responding to nearly 60,000 incidents a year and that number is expected to grow.
While Abrams says they are handling the volume of calls they receive, he hopes the additional resources will improve service to some of the county’s rural areas.
The next step will be for the department to work with finance and human resources to figure out the compensation enlargement. Abrams says they are also working with EMS academies to create a pathway for high school students and the public to work for them.
The department is also working with the county to figure out the additional staffing needs.