Spirit of St. Louis – Pick Your Charity, Pick Your Car

St. Charles County budget cuts causing delayed ambulance response times

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ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO (KTVI)-- It all started with a budget shortfall in 2010, since then Marty Limpert with the St. Charles County Ambulance District says they've been fighting budget cuts that forced them close stations and lose staff.

"We lost 3 ½ million dollars in revenue 3 ambulances in 2010. In 2012, we put an issue on the ballot for a tax increase it failed by 1 percent. In July of last year, we had to cut in the Darden Prairie area and close a base in Cottleville. We are down 13 EMT`s right now and have an issue on the ballot on April 8th.  If successful we will try to re-staff those positions," said Limpert.

Officials want to make it clear that the ambulance budget is separate from the fire districts. 16 to 20 vehicles are on the road at 24-7 answering over 100 calls per day. The district just released a map to illustrate areas in red that have 1 to 5 minute delays.

"Response times have increased as calls continue to come into that region, ambulances coming from other regions," Limpert said.

Right now there are 145 paramedics covering 585 miles. If the ballot issue fails more cuts are expected.

"Right now 35 percent of our revenue comes from taxes and 65 percent comes from user fees. Our best asset is an informed voter," he said.

St. Charles Ambulance District information
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26 comments

  • ByeByeToTheRite

    The same ol’ story from government today: No money for ambulances, but ALWAYS PLENTY of money for TAX BREAKS FOR THE WEALTHY or tax welfare handouts to the rich with their hands out.

    Yes, and informed voter is important: Vote for that tax increase, because they need more tax breaks for the wealthy – er, I mean more money for ambulances. Vote for it, you’re a sucker – the money will just go to more handouts and tax breaks for wealthy developers.

    We need to send a message: If you need more money for services, don’t raise taxes on the average guy. Simply cut the tax breaks and welfare handouts for the wealthy if you need more money. Period.

    • InformedVoter

      What??? You don’t even make sense, the Ambulance District in St. Charles IS NOT even a part of the county government….again, INFORMED voters….

      Maybe you should find out more about the District before you start bashing them or their needs. Period.

      • nowhere_freeway

        InformedVoter – don’t expect byebye to become informed about anything. he is nothing but a partasin hack. he could turn a story about a candy bar into a stupid political rant. he’s basically the village idiot here in the fox2 forums.

  • firefighter1

    Thank you informed voter!!!!
    The St. Charles County Ambulance District needs this tax increase to pass this year or drastic measures will be taken. I have first hand knowledge of this and just trying to educate people on it.
    This tax increase will cost mere pennies to a homeowner but will guarantee a lifetime of protection.
    Yes some people say I’ve never had to call an ambulance or I never will. Sometime in their lives they will need one, and these people that shoot this tax increase down will be the first person on the news blaming the Ambulance District for the Medic Unit taking an extra 5 minutes or so to get there to help them. And on the extreme side of this someone in thier family perishes because of a delayed response. I hope this never happens, but the only person to blame will be the taxpayer that voted this down.

    Yes I pay a lot in taxes and I understand the Fire and EMS tax. I will definately be VOTING YES ON THIS PROPOSITON.
    Unlike the UNEDUCATED FOOL THAT STARTED THIS CONVERSATION!!!!!!!!!!

  • Troy Stephens Retired NREMT-Paramedic

    Aren’t you sick of government’s solution to every budget deficit being an increase in fees and/or taxes? I certainly am. I’ve seen my expenditures to the government go up enough to last me a lifetime and it angers me! Let me tell you one way you can avoid a tax increase in the next election if you live in St. Charles County.
    St. Charles County Ambulance District (SCCAD) is again planning to advance a tax increase in the next election. You may recall Prop E from the last election. It failed and for good reason. SCCAD plans to reword the description of Prop E on the ballot to confuse people into voting in favor of the tax hike in the next election. Please indulge me while I explain why this tax hike is unnecessary at this time. I spent my career in EMS and am a huge proponent of EMS and all they do. However, raising taxes unnecessarily prevents me from supporting this initiative.

    SCCAD is a top rated agency with numerous awards for service excellence. Their training department is highly sought after. I’ve taken a class or two there myself. Their paramedics do an outstanding job in patient care. SCCAD continues to be a pacesetter. In every respect, they do a great job. Nothing I am about to say is meant as a direct reflection on the services they render or the providers that deliver them.

    SCCAD is going to campaign to convince you that because of growth in the county the tax revenue is not keeping up with the demand placed on the agency. “Tax revenue is down.” is what one person arguing on their behalf said to me. This is a simple matter of math. St. Charles County is one of, if not the, fastest growing counties in the state. Every new house that goes up is an increase in tax revenue for the district. To say that tax revenues are down and attach that to a statement about growth being the need for more revenue is absurd. Additionally, it is unethical to collect both tax revenue and charge a fee for their services, as well. In my opinion, that is double dipping or receiving payment twice for the same service.

    One point a pro tax hike fellow made was, “…not filling 14 paramedic positions, closing an ambulance base, and shutting down ambulances have been done. The paramedics have been without raises for years, and have given up benefits to the tune of $1,000,000 to help keep things operating.” One of the biggest expenditures any company ever has to make is payroll. The average paramedic in a decent agency in this area of the country starts at around $45K/year, but SCCAD starts their staff around $60K/year. After ten years, they make somewhere in the neighborhood of $90K/year. SCCAD is one of very few agencies in the nation that enjoy the LUXURY of double medic trucks. That means every truck has two paramedics to staff it. Obviously, this is ideal, but it is also unrealistic if you are struggling to keep your trucks operating and agency open. Most agencies around the nation staff with one paramedic and one EMT-basic or EMT-intermediate. Everyone is underpaid in EMS, but we’re talking about a significant difference in pay over a yearly salary when you factor in benefits and other such things. Therefore, when the argument is SCCAD has made all the cuts they can, the truth is they have not. Let’s also not forget we’re in a recession and few people have received pay increases in any business.

    The union also plays a big role in driving up the costs to the district. I don’t know a great deal about the influence of the union at SCCAD, but it’s not a coincidence that struggling companies struggling financially, in and out of the public sector, are also plagued with union representation. Unions often prevent or, at the very least, hinder the company’s ability to make cuts necessary to the financial health of the business, which usually drive up the costs.

    I was told, “Reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid patients has been DRASTICALLY cut….which has been only one of the obstacles that the District has to battle for. Even when the District does get paid for those particular transfers, it usually takes multiple re-submissions of the bill to get paid.” This is not unique to any hospital or healthcare service. Even before Obamacare, there were issues with reimbursement rates, but since Obamacare it’s gotten dramatically worse. Reimbursements are never timely and do, in fact, require multiple re-submissions before being paid. Every healthcare entity in the nation has to deal with this and most, while struggling, are coping.

    A SCCAD employee said to me, “So you are an advocate of EMS, you appreciate the first class service that SCCAD provides…and yet you don’t wish to pay for it!” We already are paying for it. It comes out of our property taxes and get this; if you live in St. Charles City, you pay the tax twice. Once for SCCAD and again for the FD’s ambulances. What I’m not willing to do is pay a higher tax for it when SCCAD has not exhausted every means at their disposal to reduce spending.

    Finally, I received the inevitable scare tactic. “Since the next cut the District must make may very well be in Wentzville, are you sure you will still be content? When you get in an MVA, or your mother has a heart attack or stroke, or your child has a seizure or an acute allergic reaction–will an ambulance responding from O’Fallon be sufficient?” I do not want to see a single base close, but I also appreciate the need to live within our means. If that means cutbacks, we’ll do the best we can with what we can afford. Nevertheless, as I’ve already pointed out, there are still areas to make up the deficit, but they remain untouched.

    To be clear, very little revenue in EMS generates from 911 calls. A large portion of 911 calls is from uninsured people and those who abuse the 911 system. The agency, despite their best efforts to collect, will likely never see a dime from the call. The abuse of 911 by a large portion of the public increases operating costs for people who do not meet the requirements for medical necessity and therefore do not require ambulance responses. SCCAD should collaborate with Christian Hospital’s initiative Mobile Integrated Healthcare. This is a pioneering approach to curving this trend and consequently, cutting operating expenses.

    The bulk of generated revenue in EMS is from non-emergency transfers. Those are calls taking a patient home from the hospital, be it a private residence or a nursing home. The agency has the right to refuse those calls, if there is no insurance or if no payment arrangement is agreed upon in advance of the scheduled service.
    Don’t let SCCAD convince you that the sky is falling. Don’t let them pass this expense on to you when they have not done everything required of them to get their house in order. Most importantly, don’t let another government run agency pass their shortcomings on to you in the form of tax increases.

    • Ex-Firefighter-EmtB

      Thank you Troy, I was a driving force in the failure of Prop E. I got these very same words out. As I too was aware of the waist. This department is using fear tactics to get what they want. It is a shame, thank you for your post !

  • Anonymous

    Informed voters will make or break this district. Look at Joachim-Plattin Ambulance district. They’ve gotten increases when they need them and they didn’t just go after a property tax they also propose small sales taxes and it works. In the past 10 years they’ve doubled the number of houses (or stations), entirely replaced their fleet, have run double medic trucks longer than I can remember, pay competitively, and have consistently remained on the cutting edge of emergency medicine in a time when healthcare reimbursements are at a low, All of this because the voters in their district are informed and the board members, along with management know what they are doing. I’m not trying to take anything away from SCCAD, but pointing out what can be done when you get ahead of the curve and have informed voters, Would hate to see SCCAD end up like DC Fire/EMS

  • Amy B. Jordan

    Ok, MODOT is low on salt, ambulance stations are closing, and the number of police is decreased—all because of budget cuts.
    Government ultimately has only two jobs: Protecting constituents, and roads.
    It’s completely disgusting that they’ve spent themselves beyond providing their two essential functions, because their unfettered spending is going to cost other people their lives. When they’ve become a danger to those they’re supposed to protect, it’s time to vote them out.

  • InformedVoter

    I don’t see how further cuts to anything will restore those paramedics, ambulances or lower response times to what they were previously. If I understand correctly St. Charles County Ambulance District has being maintaining their service with their base “starting salary” from the early 1970’s ~~ now don’t get me wrong I understand that there has been a lot of growth in St. Charles since then. (I moved in with the boom of the early 80’s) but they have not had a tax increase since their inception ~ it’s currently 13.7 cents. And we all know how much the price of everything has increased since then.

    The St. Charles County Library has been around for a long time too but they needed a tax increase a few years ago and they got it… I love reading, so again, don’t get me wrong, I’m not picking on the county library, and having a nice library for our citizens to use is nice, but more of a luxury if you will. I’m also pretty sure the ambulance district has far more equipment expenses that have higher price tags and a lot of the supplies are “single patient use” i.e. IV tubing and needles, bandages to control bleeding, endotracheal tubes that are placed into a patient’s airway…you get the idea. Also, everyone that works at the library doesn’t have to maintain a state license as well as other certificates to help my family, friends or myself in a medical/traumatic emergency.

    The point I am trying to make is that I pay more money for the library that I seldom, if ever, use than I do to the ambulance district, which unfortunately I have had to use for my mother and grandfather. And a lot less than I pay to the school district, the college, the fire district I live in and for the upkeep of our roads/bridges in St. Charles County….. Just go look at your 2013 tax statement, you do too.

    In reply to Mr. Stephens directly, I felt a twinge of disgust in your statements about the salaries of SCCAD’s paramedics and their double paramedic crews. I believe the starting salary for SCCAD is closer to 50K a year and perhaps if you are a Supervisor or upper management with more than 10yrs experience you might come close to the 90K you stated, but not the paramedics the assist you at the scene and render care to you on the way to the hospital, nursing home or returning you to your own home. And please remember the majority of them work 24 hours at a time, with a minimum of 48 scheduled hours a week, every week, some weeks as much as 72hrs. The overtime is automatic and they may work as much as 32hrs of it a week, not because they want to but because that is how the schedule works. That’s 240hrs a month (4weeks) vs 160hrs (40hr week/4 weeks). I’m sure if you would call SCCAD HQ they would tell you what the hourly rate is for their Paramedics. I know it’s less then the hourly rate a mechanic gets to work on a car and these Paramedics are working on people……

    As far as the 2 paramedic truck comment, what are you proposing, the firing of half the Paramedics and replacing them with someone with lesser training and abilities in an emergency situation?? What happens to the 2 critical patients in a motor vehicle accident or the victims of a house fire?? Flip a coin to see who gets the attendant with more advance training and who doesn’t…are you serious??

    Double dipping…..I pay for my health insurance premium but I also pay a copay at the doctors office, Urgent Care or Emergency Department….We are paying the annual tax to insure that we have an Ambulance District to respond to our calls for help… but like I mentioned earlier there are ongoing costs for single use supplies, they are not like the fire department who can use their same gloves on every call and use the same fire hose and nozzle or a ladder on the next fire….if the fire departments had single use equipment you would get a bill from them as well.

    While the rest of your post is very informative on how payments are made, the effects of Obamacare on reimbursement and reminding us of the recession we are in, I would encourage you Mr. Stephens and everyone who is a voter in St. Charles County to attend a monthly Board of Directors Meeting and ask questions and get the information for yourself instead of relying on disgruntled tax paying citizens ~ EVERYONE HATES TAXES!! but some of them are truly necessary. Be an Informed Voter ~ get the facts yourself… http://www.sccad.com

    I completely believe that an 11 cent increase to the current tax rate of 13.7 cents is worth it. I paid 51.00 in taxes for the entire year of 2013 to ensure when I call 911 and need medical attention I get an ambulance with 2 Paramedics…. I’ve spent more than that on a meal out, gum, coffee and soda in the month of January.

  • Anonymous

    Troy, when was the last tax increase for SCCAD? If I remember correctly, they haven’t had one since their inception in 1974. In fact, due to the Hancock law, they have seen a decrease in tax revenue since 2001. All of this while all operating expenses have increased along with population and call volume. As a so-called retired NREMT-P, you should know that even just a one or two minute delay in patient care can have an incredible impact on patient outcome. If I were a resident of the fine SCCAD, I would be unwilling to risk the health and well being of myself and loved ones so I could save a couple of dollars every year, or “live within my means.”

    Also, how can you attempt to bash the union when you have no facts to prove that they’re at all responsible?

    I don’t like paying taxes any more than you do but there are some areas where cutting corners isn’t worth it. Allowing a decrease in EMS, Fire, or Police services is not better for ANYBODY.

    Anyone else that’s reading this please do not listen to Troys weak arguments. SCCAD is a great ambulance district with a very highly trained and experienced staff. This tax increase IS NECESSARY for them to continue operating in this manner to protect you and your loved ones. do not deserve to be put in this sort of negative light by someone who probably spent his career at a far inferior ambulance district, or even worse, private EMS.

  • Beau Lewis

    Anonymous: You are correct JAPAD has done a wonderful job adapting to difficult financial times, however, they were able to do this with a sales tax increase (like you mentioned), which is a significantly lower impact to the individual tax payer as everyone regardless of the income pays the same percentage.

    With that said, unfortunately SCCAD can not ask the tax payers for a Sales Tax, they are one of 4 or 5 counties in the entire state that can not collect a sales tax for a special district. I.E. School, Fire, Ambulance, Library… and so on. This is because their wonderful county executive Steve Ehlmann has enough political clout in Jeff City, to prevent legislature from allowing it. Mr. Ehlmann and other politicians like him do not want to allow the special districts to collect sales tax in class 1 counties like St. Charles, St. Louis, and the a couple of large counties around Kansas City, because they want to keep that money for counties and cities and not risk sharing it with Special Districts.

    I am sure the Board of Directors at SCCAD would love to be able to collect a small sales tax to overcome their budget shortfalls (after Millions of dollars in cuts have already been made) but the fact is it is not allowed by state legislation.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for pointing that out. I did not know they couldn’t collect a sales rax for special districts. Unfortunate since we’re talking a situation where 1 mimute could make the difference

  • Firefighter1

    As I’ve said before it will be a YES vote for me and my wife! Wouldn’t have it any other way as life is precious, and in an emergency it is even more precious when help is 5-8 minutes further away.
    Thank you to everyone who came to this argument with loaded guns.
    APPLAUSE TO YOU

  • Troy Stephens Retired NREMT-Paramedic

    “I felt a twinge of disgust in your statements about the salaries of SCCAD’s paramedics and their double paramedic crews.”

    Disgust? No, not really. I’m more of a realist. Double medic trucks are a LUXURY. Very few agencies can afford to have them on a full-time regular basis. By SCCAD’s own admission, they can’t afford their current operations expenses. Since 89% of SCCAD’s total operating expenditures is payroll, the district, to find stability, needs to make significant changes to the way they meet their staffing needs. They call it triage. While I certainly don’t want to see good people lose their jobs, there may be no way around that. Staffing with a single medic and single EMT is what the industry standard is nationwide.

    “As far as the 2 paramedic truck comment, what are you proposing, the firing of half the Paramedics and replacing them with someone with lesser training and abilities in an emergency situation?? What happens to the 2 critical patients in a motor vehicle accident or the victims of a house fire?? Flip a coin to see who gets the attendant with more advance training and who doesn’t…are you serious??”

    If we use your logic, what happens when you have four critical patients? Let’s start staffing the ambulances with four medics. Seriously, if you have two critical patients, you do what every other agency does and call for a second truck.

    As for the discussion about overtime, overtime is a way of life for everyone in public service. While my wage estimates may be high and/or yours may be low (which I suspect is the case), overtime is a factor in determining what the annual salary structure looks like. Nobody accepted a position at SCCAD thinking they would be working any less than 24-hour shifts at a time. It is often times less expensive to pay overtime rates than it is to hire additional employees when you factor in the extra liability insurance, benefits and equipment.

    I consider myself an informed voter. I cannot support a tax hike of any kind until SCCAD trims the fat. While the county is growing, so is the tax base. Increase housing and population mean increase tax revenues.

    As for my being a retired medic and understanding response times…I said previously, in an ideal world, we would have doctors in every truck on every street corner in every community. It’s simply unrealistic! Everyone has to live within his or her means. This includes government.

    As for the Union involvement, I’ve done some research and spoken with several different medics from the area, including a couple of former SCCAD employees. It is the consensus (from those that I’ve spoken with) that the union, as with most companies, runs things at SCCAD.

    “do not deserve to be put in this sort of negative light by someone who probably spent his career at a far inferior ambulance district, or even worse, private EMS.”

    By the way, I did spend most of my career in a private service. That private service took all the 911 and emergency calls for the large city and surrounding areas that I worked in. That service, despite the current economy, have grown and continue to receive requests from surrounding agencies to take over their coverage because they got in over their head too. Agencies seek them out to consult and help turn around their struggling markets. They receive rare three-year accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) every time it’s time to renew. I’ve also worked in EMS in four different states, to include government agencies, as well. It might not be a bad idea for the leadership of SCCAD to reach out to a service like my former ‘private’ agency and find out what they’re doing right. Best practices and all…Oh yeah, my former agency handles twice the call volume of SCCAD.

    Dismiss my arguments if you wish, but they’re not weak. Many people agree with me. Government has to live within their means and stop demanding the people pay for their failures. SCCAD is a stellar agency by all accounts, but there are changes that can be made that would lower their operating expenditures and they haven’t been made. Make those changes and if you’re still in trouble then we the people will see what we can do to help.

    Why is it that people resort to personal attacks in a debate? I didn’t attack a single person; I gave credit and will continue to give credit to the providers and service SCCAD provides. I simply see other ways to meet the budget than increasing the taxes. In my opinion, when SCCAD employee’s attack a person instead of debating the issue, it shows a lack of professionalism. Public servants are supposed to be even tempered in all situations.

  • Confused by facts

    Troy: I am a very informed voter, resident of St. Charles County, and also have previously worked in EMS for years, in several different states, for private, public, federal, and government contractor.

    I am not hear to attack you, but I think your views are slightly jaded, and your facts are slightly skewed.

    Lets talk about double paramedic units first.

    As a resident of this county I want us to have the best possible care in the shortest amount of time, that includes double paramedic units. While it is true that many agencies operate on a 1 EMT and 1 Paramedic basis, there are many agencies in the St Louis Metro Area that are double paramedic. In-fact most of the public agencies in the St. Louis Market are double paramedic, that even goes for most of the outlining counties. (if you would like I can send you a list of agencies in the area that are double paramedic). So I believe that the industry standard for the St Louis region would be double paramedic.

    Now some might notice I left off private ems services, well that was intentional and this is why, the major difference in MOST private ems agencies and public agencies is simple, you can absolutely save money by following a private business model but there are several negatives that come with that.

    1. The majority of their staffing is made up of brand new and inexperienced employees, yes there are many senior ems providers that work for private agencies for their entire career, and there are excellent providers that work for these agencies as well. But the biggest problem that exists for these agencies is the “revolving door” and what I mean by that is these private agencies are constantly loosing good employees to better paying public entities, Why you ask, because most public entities realize the value of “you get what you pay for” when you offer better benefits and wages you have the ability to attract the best providers in the business.

    2. Lets talk about money a bit more, another problem with private ems agencies is the fact that MOST of these organizations are more worried about the money then they are about providing a high level of care, you and I know that these organizations just do not care about their employees, as EMT’s and Paramedics are a dime a dozen right now. ( I am not talking about the employees or even the middle management at these agencies either but the large corporations that own them.

    3. You might not like this but it is a fact that the quality improvement at these agencies is subpar, they do not invest the time and money required to educate and correct providers that are subpar our who have made mistakes. They just fire them and hire a new batch. You can not argue this if you truly worked for one of the private services in the St Louis Metro (including IL) as I have worked for several and have seen this happens over and over again

    This brings me back to “double paramedics” another reason that St. Charles County does not want to go the road of paramedic / EMT units is because of their ordinance, it requires double paramedics units, that have the same equipment, training level, additional certs (ACLS, PALS, PHTLS) permanent base stations and so on. This ordinance was established in the late 90’s or early 2000’s to ensure that the citizens of this great county receive the highest level of care possible. I believe that the “richest” county in the state should receive the best possible care and that requires double paramedics.

    Lets talk about pay, you grossly over estimated the average paramedics salary in the county. A brand new paramedic at SCCAD makes $15.29/hr, a paramedic after 8 years on the job makes $22.12/hr. if you want to talk total salary it works out to a starting wage of $50,700/year and an 8 year medic makes $73,349.

    now that may sound like a high salary if you do not take in to consideration the amount of hours worked and the stress of the job. (sure I know you and a few others on here were arguing over this but that is not my intent.) Should we start comparing that hourly rate to some skilled labor pay scales in the area, like Electricians, Carpenters and Plumbers, all of their apprentice hourly rates start much higher and their journeymen rates are much higher. Not to discount the importance of their careers but I do believe that EMS providers of St. Charles County and anywhere else for that matter deserve every penny we can pay them.

    SCCAD could cut wages and benefits but then they would loose good employees to higher paying fire districts or ambulances districts in the areas, I believe we want them to stay competitive, so they can maintain these excellent providers. ( which you have mentioned several times)

    I could go on and on but I am tired now and I do not feel like wasting anymore time tonight. If you choose to debate any of my statements please feel free to reply, I would be happy to continue this debate. P.S. I can provide references for all of my numbers and facts above and I would suggest that you do the same, in the interest of professionalism of course.

    One last thing, I am curious what agency you worked for, as I was not aware that there was an agency in the St. Louis area that ran 65,000 to 70,000 calls per year, and that is what your call volume would have had to been if it was double SCCAD’s..

    Most of this information is on SCCAD’s website, I suggest you read up before you reply.

    • Troy Stephens Retired NREMT-Paramedic

      “As a resident of this county I want us to have the best possible care in the shortest amount of time that includes double paramedic units.”

      I want that too, but if SCCAD can’t afford it. You make cuts before you go to the taxpayers. The national standard is one paramedic and one EMT.

      “While it is true that many agencies operate on a 1 EMT and 1 Paramedic basis, there are many agencies in the St Louis Metro Area that are double paramedic. In-fact most of the public agencies in the St. Louis Market are double paramedic, that even goes for most of the outlining counties. (if you would like I can send you a list of agencies in the area that are double paramedic).”

      I would love to see your list of ambulance districts that run two medic trucks. Maybe FD’s in the St. Louis area do that (I know STL FD doesn’t), because they’re fire departments, but I don’t believe the standard for ambulance ‘only’ districts is as you’ve stated. It certainly wasn’t the standard when I worked for BEMS.

      “The majority of their staffing is made up of brand new and inexperienced employees, yes there are many senior ems providers that work for private agencies for their entire career, and there are excellent providers that work for these agencies as well. But the biggest problem that exists for these agencies is the “revolving door” and what I mean by that is these private agencies are constantly loosing good employees to better paying public entities, Why you ask, because most public entities realize the value of “you get what you pay for” when you offer better benefits and wages you have the ability to attract the best providers in the business.”

      Where to start? Okay, yes, private agencies often hire new medics. Every medic must start somewhere, but there are many veteran medics and EMT’s, as well. In this case, it seems the benefits and wages seem to be a liability in St. Charles County. I want every public servant to make as much money as they can, as long as the government that pays them lives within their means. In most cases, people leave private services to slow down. Most municipality ran ambulances; those of the fire service for example, don’t do private transfers and as a result usually end up losing money. Which is a good example of why private agencies really are financially better off than that of fire based EMS.

      “Lets talk about money a bit more, another problem with private ems agencies is the fact that MOST of these organizations are more worried about the money then they are about providing a high level of care, you and I know that these organizations just do not care about their employees, as EMT’s and Paramedics are a dime a dozen right now.”

      I don’t think that this a fair assessment at all. Maybe this can be said of some private services, but not the majority. EMS is about saving lives, treating the sick and wounded and patient advocacy, but it’s also a business. Like any business, it has to make at least as much as it spends. I have worked for a couple and have knowledge of many other private services that put a great deal of time and effort into their employee’s, their training and their equipment. The company I used to work for, that I’ve mentioned in previous postings is one of them. Significant investments have been made to create one of the most technological training and research centers in EMS. They invested into a communications center that rivals anything NASA has. They invest in the latest equipment. They have an AED program that rivals anything I’ve seen anywhere else. I could go on and on. They enjoy a greater than 90% patient satisfaction rate.
      “You might not like this but it is a fact that the quality improvement at these agencies is subpar, they do not invest the time and money required to educate and correct providers that are subpar or who have made mistakes. They just fire them and hire a new batch. You can not argue this if you truly worked for one of the private services in the St Louis Metro (including IL) as I have worked for several and have seen this happens over and over again.”

      Again, maybe you’re right about STL metro. I worked for AMR (Abbott) for all of two shifts when I first moved to the area. I would agree with your assessment if you were talking about them and only them. It took me no time to figure out that I did not want Abbott’s name on my resume. It seems like you’re limiting your opinion based on STL metro agencies. Actually, the agency that I worked for that I keep cheering on is in Illinois (but not STL area). They’re a national pacesetter that other states, systems and agencies are patterning themselves after. I don’t mean to keep making this about my old agency, but they are succeeding and they receive not one dime from taxpayers. Their QI program is top rated and they run greater than 50K calls per year. I just got confirmation on that number.

      “This brings me back to “double paramedics” another reason that St. Charles County does not want to go the road of paramedic / EMT units is because of their ordinance, it requires double paramedics units that have the same equipment, training level, additional certs (ACLS, PALS, PHTLS) permanent base stations and so on. This ordinance was established in the late 90′s or early 2000′s to ensure that the citizens of this great county receive the highest level of care possible.”

      Then I say, in my opinion, it’s time to repeal that ordinance if it is unsustainable, as apparently it is.

      “I believe that the “richest” county in the state should receive the best possible care and that requires double paramedics.”

      This sounds like something right out of Obama’s mouth. This has nothing to do with the wealth of the county. This has everything to do with living within our means. Government cannot keep going to the taxpayer every time they can’t pay their bills. There is a lot of cutting that can still be done at SCCAD. It will be painful and unpopular, but you cut first and then if you’re still in trouble you ask for help.

      “Lets talk about pay, you grossly over estimated the average paramedics salary in the county. A brand new paramedic at SCCAD makes $15.29/hr, a paramedic after 8 years on the job makes $22.12/hr. if you want to talk total salary it works out to a starting wage of $50,700/year and an 8 year medic makes $73,349.”

      Again, I don’t believe I’m over estimating anything. You’re talking about an hourly rate, which your numbers are probably right. I’m putting in a Sunshine request next week to receive and review union information specific to payroll, overtime records and I already have the budget. Still, even if your hourly rates are correct, when you factor in all the built in overtime and then the overtime that is not built in, employees at SCCAD are making quite a bit more than other agencies in this area. Again, I’m all for better benefits and wages IF the agency can afford it. Evidently, it can NOT afford it because they want to raise taxes.

      “Now that may sound like a high salary if you do not take in to consideration the amount of hours worked and the stress of the job.”

      Really, the stress of the job; Of course, it’s stressful. We see some of the most horrific things anyone should ever have to see, but it’s our job. It’s what we signed up for. We signed up for it knowing that we weren’t going to get rich doing it. While we work many hours, there is a lot of downtime when we’re at work, especially, if you have bases to relax and sleep in. I say that because when I worked at the agency I keep mentioning, we sat in our trucks for 12 or more hours. We did this because the company felt that response times mattered. A steering wheel in your hand is always faster than getting up out of bed to answer the call.

      “Should we start comparing that hourly rate to some skilled labor pay scales in the area, like Electricians, Carpenters and Plumbers, all of their apprentice hourly rates start much higher and their journeymen rates are much higher.”

      Right, again, because of the union. Unions pay more, but they also drive up the costs too. You can get equal or better training and experience without participating in any union. A person should always be graded on their individual merits, the content of their character and their personal performance and efficiency, not on what date they were hired in. I personally think the union has forced SCCAD into a scenario like GM faced and now SCCAD is looking for a bailout. No more! If you’re going to enter into overextending collective bargaining agreements, then don’t come to the taxpayer looking for the bailout. Live within your means!

      “I do believe that EMS providers of St. Charles County and anywhere else for that matter deserve every penny we can pay them.”

      I’ve said many times, I’m all for great benefits and wages. I want ten medics on each truck. I want a truck on every street corner and I want them all paid as brain surgeons are paid. We both know that is unrealistic. Pay scales should be reflective of personal merit, not seniority, and should be within the margin of error for a balanced budget.

      “I believe we want them to stay competitive, so they can maintain these excellent providers.”

      Of course, we want them to stay competitive, but we also want them to LIVE WITHIN THEIR MEANS! Set your expenditures based on your revenue. Times are hard right now and they’re not getting better. They’re getting worse. It’s going to take us years to undo the damage done by the Obama administration. Every agency in America is spending more than they can afford. SCCAD argues that it’s only a SMALL increase in property taxes. A small one here, a small one there, a new fee here, new agencies to fund there; they all add up. We have to start saying no to government.

      “I could go on and on but I am tired now and I do not feel like wasting anymore time tonight. If you choose to debate any of my statements please feel free to reply, I would be happy to continue this debate.”

      I appreciate the professional manner in which you chose to engage me although I don’t consider this a waste of time. I intend to make sure this tax increase does not succeed. Still, it’s so much better than slinging personal insults. We obviously disagree, but I’m happy that we can present our differing sides based on the merits of our positions.

      “One last thing, I am curious what agency you worked for, as I was not aware that there was an agency in the St. Louis area that ran 65,000 to 70,000 calls per year, and that is what your call volume would have had to been if it was double SCCAD’s..”

      I’m hesitant to list my agency in an open forum like this. I still maintain close personal friendships with many people there, including senior management. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t a STL based agency and I don’t think I ever implied that it was. At least, I didn’t mean to. You can find me on FB and message me and I’d be happy to discuss the agency privately with you. Since I left that agency, they have grown from covering two counties to seven different markets. I’ve worked in Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri. I had to retire when I developed a bone disease that is degenerative and required multiple surgeries, otherwise, I would still be in the trenches doing what I was always passionate about.

  • Ex-Firefighter-EmtB

    The truth is…..
    St. Charles County is one of the few counties that hire Firefighter/Emt employees in our fire districts. in this model, it is necessary to fund multipul departments including SCADD. While most require you be a Paramedic/Firefighter and fund only fire districts. If in fact your arguments are for public safety and health, Why shouldn’t our fire districts be combined Ambulance/ Fire districts like St. Louis City? This model provides all Paramedic/ Firefighters. It is less of a drain on the public without duplication of Admenastrative staff, buildings, Equipment, Fuel, etc. The current model used in St. Charles County is exspensive. These are the facts! I fear most of our current Firefighters/Emts dislike going back to school to become paramedics to facilitate the most cost effective model.

    Another serious topic in the county is the creation of the NEW county wide police department, it’s wasteful in the same way. By eliminating the elected position of Sheriff in St. Charles County and creating the new County Police Department to duplicate it. The tax payers will pay the exspensive creation of it and all its associated cost. New appointed police chiefs salary, Admenastrative staff, etc. Not to mention we loose our Elected Sheriff. St. Charles County is under attack by our own officials. I challenge every reader of this article to get educated and vote with the facts. These topics and their funding are too important to ignore.

    Please support the https://www.facebook.com/groups/StCharlesCountySheriffPreservationInitiative/

    • Troy Stephens Retired NREMT-Paramedic

      I tend to agree with you on this. I think it was foolish to create a new government agency on a county police department. Of course, I disagreed with Bush when he created Homeland Security. We already had all the government agencies we needed to fight terror and protect our homeland. They just needed to communicate better. That could have been achieved without creating new agencies or expanding government.

  • tom tatters

    Troy Stephens, why not use your real name and agenda. I know you can’t be retired and be who you say you are. I do have a good idea who you really are by your writing and wordiness. So why hide behind a mask on here.

  • Troy Stephens Retired NREMT-Paramedic

    Tom, Troy Stephens is my real name. I have stated my agenda pretty plainly. Who is it that you think I am? As a matter of fact, Tom, I seem to be the only ones brave enough to use my real name in this discussion. I don’t hide behind screen names. Not that I would friend you, since I don’t know you, but as I pointed out in a previous post, I’m on Facebook and I live in Wentzville. Feel free to look me up. I’ve nothing to hide.

  • Troy Stephens Retired NREMT-Paramedic

    By the way, if you said that because you think I’m too young to be retired…you’re right. As I also said, I’m retired because of a bone disease that forced me to retire. I’m only in my 40s.

  • Troy Stephens Retired NREMT-Paramedic

    More importantly, why don’t you just defend your position instead of worrying about who I am and am not. The arguments are valid whether you believe my identity or not. Stick to the issues, my friend.

  • Chris M

    Its just incredible that a .11 cent increase isn’t worth it to you to have the best service possible. Hopefully more people in this county don’t think the way you do!

  • Troy Stephens Retired NREMT-Paramedic

    Chris, you’re missing the point. The point is, we’re tired of the government coming to the people for bailouts. We’re tired of the government not living within their means. And actually, Chris, most of the people I’ve spoken to think like me. If SCCAD had done everything it could to bring their budget under control, this would be a different discussion. They haven’t. If you can’t afford the double medic trucks, then you operate the way just about every other ambulance agency in the nation operates. I want the best service possible! Everyone wants the best service possible! I also want the best service possible without raising my taxes.

    We have to start saying no to the government. Have you seen the state of our economy? Have you not noticed the increases every American is paying to government in taxes and fees? When is enough, enough? I’m not being asked by the government where I want my taxes to go. My taxes are being used to fund things I wholeheartedly disagree with. So, until government can demonstrate to me that they can control their own spending and/or they’ve made every effort to live within their means, I will not support any tax increases. BTW, it’s $.11 for every $100 dollars assessed. Big difference than just saying $.11.

    SCCAD isn’t asking us to pay more taxes to try to reach the national standard because they’re behind. They’re asking us to pay more taxes to fund things that are luxuries. There is a big difference.

    • Ex-Firefighter-EmtB

      Great response Troy, I’m gonna post it on my Facebook post to raise awareness and achieve another NO for this increase. Thanks for your input and keeping it factual!

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