The squad’s board chairman Ron Lambert and treasurer Dave Burns explained recently that, while MVRS has historically relied on volunteers from the community, a shortage of volunteers with the proper certification has resulted in the squad having to pay personnel to cover some shifts.
Increasingly rigorous training requirements make it hard for volunteers to invest the time in classes that enable them to meet the minimum standards for providing medical care on an ambulance, they said.
According to state law, a basic life support ambulance must have at least an EMT-Basic as the attendant in charge, while an advanced life support ambulance requires an EMT-Intermediate or EMT-Paramedic. The basic EMT course takes 160 hours of classroom, clinical rotation and evaluation time. More than 400 hours are required for EMT-I certification, and it takes 800-plus hours to become a paramedic.
Faced with the need to cover shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Lambert said that two years ago MVRS began paying some members who were racking up to three times the 24 hours a month of duty time required by squad rules. A lot of it was nighttime coverage, he said.