ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Nearly 400 paramedics and EMTs employed in Pinellas County learned late last week that they are eligible for the $1,000 bonus promised to first responders by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
What You Need To Know
- Sunstar paramedics and EMTs now eligible for first responder bonus
- Sunstar is a public-private 9-1-1 ambulance service
- The verbiage originally stated eligible first responders were to be employed by a state or local government
- The $1000 bonuses will be distributed between August 4 - August 15
Sunstar Paramedics, Pinellas County’s sole provider for 9-1-1 ambulance services, received a letter from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity stating that employees of private emergency medical employers are also eligible for the one-time payment.
Shortly after Gov. DeSantis made the announcement in May, the verbiage in SB 2500 stated that eligible first responders were to be employed by a state or local government. Due to Pinellas County’s public-private structure for 9-1-1 services, hundreds of paramedics and EMTs were thought to be ineligible.
“For me, it was about the recognition,” said EMT Dustin Ryalls. “Money is nice, money is always nice, but it's definitely about the recognition.”
A spokesperson for Gov. DeSantis’ office provided Spectrum Bay News 9 with further clarification as to the mixup.
“Private EMS were covered under the proviso language in the General Appropriations Act. Public and private EMS are all critical first responders, regardless of whether their local government employs or contracts for those services,” wrote spokesperson Christina Pushaw in an email.
First responder bonuses will be distributed between August 4 - August 15 and will come as a paper check mailed to the employee’s home.