Since a levy was passed in November to fund additional emergency medical service for Harris Township and the Village of Elmore, four people have been added to the EMS division of the Harris-Elmore Fire Department.
And the department will be hiring another three or four by the end of the month, said James Wilburn, fire chief.
“We have hired four new people since the levy passed. We have to hire more personnel for the future,” he said. “We will be taking applications for basic and intermediate emergency medical technicians and paramedics. Also, we are going to be 24-hour advanced life support by the first of July, possibly sooner.”
Voters in the township and village approved a 4.5-mill, 5-year property tax to fund the additional service. The levy is projected to generate $289,500 annually.
The interior of the fire station on Rice Street is being renovated to accommodate sleeping quarters and a bathroom for EMS personnel. A contract for the work has been awarded to Johnnies Electric & Heating Service. Township trustees retained Port Clinton architect Ken Schoenfeld to prepare a design plan for the quarters.
“A couple of bedrooms and a bathroom are being put in where the EMS office was. They’re moving a wall to make that area a little bigger,” Wilburn said. “We’re hoping to have it completed by the end of this month or early June.”
Currently, there are two persons on duty during the day – one from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and another from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. – either paramedics or intermediate emergency medical technicians.
The department recently purchased an AutoPulse cardiac support pump, Wilburn said.
“We had discussions with our medical director and he highly recommended that we get one because of our distance from the hospitals,” he said.
During the levy campaign, township trustees noted the department relied on volunteers for service since 1975 but job and family obligations as well as increased training requirements put a strain on the ranks of volunteers.
“It’s getting tougher to get volunteers because of the change in lifestyle,” the chief said. “But we still have volunteers and those we have are very dedicated. It does take a lot of time but we are looking for more help on the fire department and EMS.”
Now in his 26th year with the department, Wilburn was appointed chief in April 2013.
Applications can also be filled out at the department’s page at harristownshipohio.com.