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Pa. rescue squad looking to hire EMTs as volunteer numbers drop

September 18, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - With the hiring process already under way, the Blue Ridge Fire and Rescue Squad could have new emergency medical technicians on the roster by the end of next week, Administrator Patrick Fleagle said.

"We continue to struggle with getting our ambulances out with personnel," Fleagle told the Washington Township (Pa.) Supervisors on Monday.

Fleagle and a part-time employee have been the only paid staff, he said.

Last month, the squad responded to 37 calls for emergency medical services, "which is relatively low for us," Fleagle said.

However, the squad missed another 13 calls, he said.

"We'll keep an eye on those fail rates," Fleagle said.

Like most departments, the one in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., has continued to struggle with a decline in volunteerism. The weekends have proved to be especially troublesome when volunteers want to spend time with families, according to Fleagle.

"I don't see volunteers coming out of the woodwork anytime soon," he said.

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Fleagle said he will try to largely balance the salaries of paid EMTs with the revenue generated by going on previously missed calls. The squad has been financially stable for 10 months to a year, he said.

Staffing "is a serious situation, but we're handling it. ... I'm very optimistic this will work out," Fleagle said.

It will take several years for participants in the reinvigorated junior membership program to reach the status of a regular volunteer, Fleagle said.

"I think you'll see more and more (departments) edging to paid staff just because of the strain on people. We still rely heavily on our volunteers. I don't think we'll ever be a paid company," Fleagle said.

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