A paramedic-level ambulance service in Clay County could be possible, but costly, according to Athens Ambulance owner Dennis Rose.
Rose conducted a study on the plausibility of integrating paramedics into his service and presented his findings to the Clay County Commissioners in a meeting Tuesday.
Several options were discussed. The first, Rose said, was to add five paramedics to his existing workforce. The paramedics would be paid $15 an hour, with at least one on staff 24/7. At this rate, the company would bring in approximately $122,000 in increased revenues every year. However, with new equipment, continuing education, and pay for the paramedics, the company would spend an additional $200,000 annually, bringing a loss of $78,000.
Rose said there were approximately 45 paramedics in Clay County and surrounding areas, and all of them were employed by other companies, including hospitals. To bring them to Clay County, he said, the company would have to offer low hours and high pay.
At the other end of the spectrum, Rose said it was possible to fire "four or five" of his employees and put paramedics in their place. This would cost less, but the care level would not be as good, Rose said.
Training existing employees was also discussed. Rose said Indianapolis-based EMS Incorporated offered to travel to Brazil to train his employees at $3,500 each, assuming there were at least 10 participants.
"We just need to find a way to optimize what we can afford," Board President David Parr said.
Commissioner Daryl Andrews asked Rose if he expected many employees quitting or being fired by the end of this year. Rose said he expected to lose "one, maybe two," but not the number needed to put paramedics in their places. It would take a minimum of four paramedics to work without overtime, barring injuries and other off time.
The board thanked Rose for his time and told him they would like to meet with him in the next couple of weeks to discuss more options.
"I believe we can deliver adequate paramedic service throughout the entire county without increasing the liability to taxpayers of the County," Andrews said.