By Bob Weaver

A large number of West Virginia counties are facing a personnel crisis with numbers of Medics and EMTs leaving the field for other employment and very few newcomers deciding to enter the field.

Calhoun EMS and other services have been put in a situation where they are paying overtime hours just to keep the coverage maintained.

Those overtime hours are creating financial problems.

Calhoun EMS has had an ambitious plan to add a second ambulance for 12 hours a days, but recruiting EMTs and Medics is remaining a problem, said Julie Sears, 911, OES and EMS Director.

Sears said the service is working hard to staff the second ambulance.

Sears said the amount of money generated by the county Emergency Services levy roughly covers about half of the operating expenses, the rest made up with reimbursements from insurance coverage and government subsidy.

Since the newly formed EMS service, Sears said the agency is finally getting that fee for service money stream coming.

Plans have been in the works for a second truck to be stationed at Grantsville in the old jail building, a space donated by the Calhoun Commission, that ambulance covering peak call hours.

"Our biggest problem with getting this plan up and running is lack of providers, and it is not just our county that is suffering. The State is almost at crisis level with providers. The providers that are out there are either leaving the state, retiring, or just getting out of the business altogether," said Sears.

She said unfortunately the younger generation is not getting into EMS at all.

"We offer classes locally (in Roane county) twice a year. This last spring we offered a fully paid program thru Work Force and did not get one single applicant. I am not sure what the answer is, but we need to find it soon," said Sears.

"I want to make sure it is clear that we are trying to keep our county covered with the best possible trained providers."

Sears has stepped up the plate wearing many hats, EMS Director, 911 Director, OES Director, Mapping & Addressing Coordinator, and Flood Plain Manager.

EMS is operating as an independent non-profit.

Roane EMS Director Danny Cronin said Roane EMS is struggling with financial support, particularly with overtime costs, and attracting medics and EMS personnel. "They can usually make better money working at some retail stores for a straight 40 hour work week," he said.

"The personnel problem is plaguing the whole state, worse in rural areas," Cronin said.

Roane General Hospital has been enlisted to help with the financial management of Roane EMS.

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