Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Steve Hansen

EMT leave discussion on table

The fire chief requests more time accumulation.


October 18, 2017

A request Thursday to increase leave time that Tucumcari city emergency medical employees may accumulate became a discussion of how hard it has become to hire and retain public safety employees.

Tucumcari Fire Chief Doug Hogan said the additional allowance for accumulated leave time has become necessary because of manpower shortages on ambulance crews.

His request led Tucumcari city commissioners at a public workshop into a discussion of shortages of qualified applicants for police and emergency medical positions. The workshop was held before Thursday’s regular City Commission meeting.

Because of the shortages, Hogan said, existing emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics are in too-short supply to allow vacation time.

The result, he said, is that many EMTs have accumulated the maximum time they are allowed to store under city regulations.

City Manager Jared Langenegger said the lack of candidates for police and emergency medical personnel “is a nationwide issue. It’s not just us.”

He also said that Mesalands Community College’s new EMT training program was introduced in part to meet the city’s need for more qualified emergency medical personnel.

Hogan noted that three current volunteer firefighters are enrolled in these classes.

More are needed, however, especially to qualify paramedics.

“The education requirements for paramedics have doubled” in New Mexico, he said, which in part accounts for a severe shortage of paramedics statewide.

As a result, he said, it may be necessary to “restructure our scheduling to have more paramedics from further away” working in the city.

Hogan also requested in the workshop that the city consider an alternative to a third fire station as the target use of state Fire Fund “carryover” funds.

He said fire department response times are adequate in the city, and he said the $188,000 accumulated in that fund would be better used to replace aging firefighting equipment.

The commission took no action on Hogan’s request. Such action must be decided upon in regular commission meetings.


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