Contract medics will augment volunteers in St. Mary's

Stock photo. Stock photo.

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (October 15, 2020)—The county's Director of Emergency Management Steve Walker said this week that contract medics would soon be hired, perhaps next week, to assist beleaguered rescue squads throughout St. Mary's County answer calls for service during the daytime hours.

"We hope to get people out to the rescue squads as quick as we can," Walker said. "All the rescue chiefs have for assistance."

The plans for the hiring and dispersal of the contract medics was being finalized this week, Walker said.

"We hope to roll out the assistance next week," he said.

The vehicles the contract medics would use, Walker said, would be those currently owned by each rescue squad.

So far the Leonardtown squad had asked for two emergency medical technicians (EMTs) for three days a week, Valley Lee had asked for two EMTs five days a week as did the Mechanicsville squad, Walker said.

The Lexington Park rescue squad requested four EMTs to be divided equally between their two stations for five days a week, while Ridge, 7th District and Hollywood all asked for two contract EMTs for four days a week.

Each of the shifts would be during the day and last for 12 hours, Walker said, which were the most difficult to fill because volunteers were often working during those hours.

The county's Advanced Life Support Unit (ALS) would also get four paramedics to assist it, but would operate out of the county's emergency management office instead of the ALS unit adjacent to MedStar St. Mary's Hospital.

The Commissioners of St. Mary's County raised the issue last week at their regular meeting, stating that response times for calls had increased significantly and the county's all volunteer system was relying heavily on mutual aid from other counties.

Many volunteers are also older and at greater risk of severe consequences if they contract the virus.

The money for hiring the medical personnel comes from CARES Act funding from the federal government to assist local jurisdictions to recover and cope with COVID-19.

Walker said the contract hires were "temporary in nature."

"When the money (about $470,000) runs out, hopefully we'll have our staffing where it needs to be," Walker said.

He predicted, under the current plan for hiring and deployment, the funding could be for three-to-three-and-a-half months.

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