"I think at this point, informally, it's pretty well agreed upon," Ambulance Authority President Steve McKinney said of the proposal to put paid EMTs on Shepherdstown, Blue Ridge Mountain, Friendship and Independent ambulances.
He said the authority had considered paid personnel for the Friendship and Independent companies, based on ambulance call statistics.
The volunteers proposed using the paid personnel from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, when about half the ambulance calls occur.
"With assistance during those core hours, it should free up the volunteers" to work nights and weekends, said Susan Barkus of the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Co.
Manning ambulances around the clock has become a problem as training requirements and the demands for service grow.
"You don't have the money to go out and hire the people to do it and we don't have the people to do it for free," said John Paul Jones, ambulance chief of the Independent Fire Co.
The volunteer and authority plans call for a $45 fee on each of the county's 15,900 households. The volunteers' plan would pay for the service, assuming a collection rate of 72 percent a year.
A draft budget by the ambulance authority figured expenses for 1998 at $629,378, including $346,708 for personnel. That budget would rely on $442,151 in household fees based on a 60 percent collection rate. The rest would come from ambulance service payments the authority would collect if it ran service at the Independent and Friendship fire companies.
Yet to be resolved is who will own ambulances purchased in the future and control the ambulance service. The ambulance authority could exercise authority over the service, while the volunteers said they want the household fees to subsidize their operations.
McKinney said the volunteers and subcommittee need to reach a consensus on a plan, which the authority must then approve. The volunteers and authority must then generate public support for the plan, which has to be approved by the county commission.
The commission would have to levy the household fee.
Pete Kelly, chairman of the subcommittee, said a plan could be finalized by the end of the year.