EMS World

FEB 2017

EMS World Magazine is the most authoritative source in the world for clinical and educational material designed to improve the delivery of prehospital emergency medical care.

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EMSWORLD.com | FEBRUARY 2017 21 but they didn't necessarily fit Huntington's needs. "We found it was particularly important to keep our membership informed as we were getting this set up," Mohr says. "Most of them had never worked with paid provid- ers. We made a special effort to introduce the new medics around. That must have been a good thing, because I see most of the paid people interacting with the volunteers. The camaraderie seems to be there." Mohr says his organization researched candidates thoroughly, looking for experi- enced, mature, good-natured people. "We had half a dozen candidates who'd just completed paramedic school in June. That wasn't enough time in the field for us. One said, 'I'm so looking forward to getting more education while riding.' Not what we needed. We wanted medics who already knew enough to take charge and delegate as appropriate." According to Mohr federal labor laws make it difficult and expensive to hire caregivers from within the organization. HCFAS would have had to count both paid and volunteer hours toward each provider's 40-hour weekly overtime threshold. Were any of Huntington's volunteer para- medics conflicted about serving alongside salaried colleagues? "One member did resign in protest," says Mohr. "He felt we should have offered him a job first. That didn't make us feel any differ- ent about not hiring our volunteers. "This is still a work in progress for us. We probably started with 65%–70% mem- ber support. Now it's more like 80%. We'll just have to keep learning and dealing with issues as they arise." Building Careers Alongside Volunteers East of HCFAS but still mostly within the town of Huntington lies Commack, a 12-square-mile community of 36,000. More densely populated than the rest of Huntington, Commack's broad spectrum of illness and trauma channels about 4,000 calls per year to the Commack Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Commack's decision to add paid provid- ers was part of a countywide trend in the early 2000s. With 24/7 paramedic coverage and more than 10 years' experience merging career and volunteer staff, CVAC has had plenty of time to discover what works and what doesn't. "At first, we were responding to all calls," says Larry Zacarese, a 24-year EMS veter- an and paid paramedic at Commack since 2010. "We'd get a trip-and-fall, and one of us would step back and say, 'This is BLS. I'm here to help, but why don't you guys do the assessment, the splint, the sling-and- swathe, whatever.' I think that really helped show we weren't taking anything away from the members. "Now we're dispatched to Charlie, Delta and Echo calls only (cardiac, respiratory, major trauma, etc.), but we still know when to step in and when to step back. If there's another ALS provider, cool; let me set up that IV for you. If you want me to take over, no problem. For More Information Circle 20 on Reader Service Card

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