Following the recent approval of a new ambulance service contract by the Hopkinsville City Council, the Hopkinsville Fire Department is looking to hire several EMS-only positions through the month of December, with application deadline in early January.

In October, Fire Chief Steve Futrell proposed hiring EMS-only positions within the department instead of requiring that Hopkinsville firefighters do both jobs.

HFD staffs both the fire and ambulance services; however, Futrell said the department struggles with retention because firefighters are required to also do EMS work.

Recently, the department has begun the hiring process of those EMS-only positions. HFD Public Information Officer and Cpt. Michael Pendleton shared that the department is already accepting applications for those openings, with the deadline currently scheduled for Jan. 3.

“We’re looking to hire EMS-only positions,” Pendleton said. “They would work with our department but they would not be certified firefighters, they would only be on the ambulance. It’s essentially a soft transition (to having EMS-only positions instead of cross training all positions).”

With that, firefighters will still be required to be EMS trained certified, Pendleton and Futrell emphasized.

On a daily basis the EMS-only employees would be assigned to an ambulance and would work the same shifts as firefighters, 24 hours on and 48 hours off.

Both Pendleton and Futrell added that HFD has four ambulances at the ready at all times and with hiring EMS-only positions, the department may be able to add a fifth ambulance in the future.

Futrell felt that adding EMS-only positions would help not only retention of employees within the department but also firefighter availability when the department receives service calls.

Futrell explained that on average, every year the department loses 10 to 12 firefighters because they don’t want to do the EMS related duties or because they don’t want to do the firefighter related duty.

“So, what we’re trying to do is give both people a place to work and it just kind of makes sense for us to try to keep from losing those people (that don’t want to do one or the other),” Futrell said.

Pendleton shared that a majority of service calls the department receives is for EMS related services.

Futrell added that because of that and an increase in service call volume over the years in Hopkinsville, when there is a fire, all ambulances, carrying cross trained firefighters, are likely already out on a call.

“(We’re trying) to be able to have firefighters who are actually firefighters on trucks everyday and stop having to take firefighters off of firetrucks to ride ambulances for an ambulance run,” Futrell said.

“So, we thought that we would separate the services and it would allow EMS-only people a place to work and to have our firefighters to remain on our firetrucks and be at fires.”

On top of helping retention as well as firefighter availability, Futrell says hiring EMS-only positions also benefits the department’s and the city’s budgets.

With cross training firefighters to be both firefighters and EMTs, as the department has done for the last several years, it can be expensive, Futrell said. He added training for EMS-only positions requires far less funds compared to firefighters.

Futrell said cross training for firefighters and EMS would cost the city and the department over $30,000 for one person by the time they are fully trained and working in the field.

They require 400 hours firefighter training, almost $3,000 worth of equipment per person and overtime while they are in the academy.

However, hiring EMS-only positions that are already trained, removes a large cost that HFD and the city would be paying for training. The only cost EMS-only positions would have would be uniforms and background checks, Futrell said.

If you are interested in applying to become a Hopkinsville EMT and fill an EMS-only position, you can apply at hopkinsvilleky.us and click the “Job Opportunities” link or you can call the department at 270-890-1400.

Reach Avery Seeger at 270-887-3236 or aseeger@kentuckynewera.com. Follow him on Twitter @AveryNewEra

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