Increased staffing coming for hilltown ambulance service

HUNTINGTON – On March 1, Hilltown Community Ambulance Association’s Board of Directors voted on a staffing plan that would increase emergency medical services to the towns of Blandford, Chester, Huntington, Montgomery, Russell and Worthington beginning on April 1, 2016.
The non-profit ambulance service currently provides EMS coverage to the six towns in their service area from 8 p.m. – midnight 7 days a week through the use of paid full- and part-time employees. For the last two years the organization has increased services to cover overnights paid with a stipend program. The change made by the board will pay the overnights at the hourly level for all employees, which will allow HCAA to hire more paramedics.
“We have always had our eye on ways to incentivize the overnight shifts for our employees while stopping short of paying them at the hourly level. With our current pay structure, any level of EMT receives a $60 stipend for being within 12 minutes of the ambulance base on the overnight and receives payment per call. Call volumes have risen over the last year to the point where paying the stipend and per call overnights has rapidly caught up to the payroll costs of simply manning the station 24/7. To address this, and increase our ability to successfully fill the overnight shifts we will begin paying 5 overnights a week at the hourly rate on April 1, 2016. The remaining two overnights will be paid with the stipend until we add them in August,” said Angela Mulkerin, HCAA Service Director. “This week we are sending out our winter newsletter which went to the press in February. The information in the newsletter about our service hours is already partially outdated with this change. That is how close we have been to being able to make this possible.”
“When the towns came together and made this organization this was the goal. We knew that this was not going to be an overnight project, and we have used the town’s investments to create a lasting, sustainable, local service option which has become a model across the state and country.” said Ron McBride, Worthington representative on the Board of Directors.
Hilltown Community Ambulance Association was called 634 times in 2015, and passed 96 calls for the year.
“When I started in 2006 we were passing upwards of 30 percent of our calls,” said HCAA Assistant Director Stephen Gaughan. “Last year, 50 of our passed calls were attributed to multiple calls happening at once, and although that happens in every system we are actively working on plans to establish a call back program so our second ambulance can be ready in the event multiple calls happen. The other 46 calls were passed on nights we were unstaffed, which will no longer happen with our new plan.”

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