Across the country, health care providers have been working around the clock since the start of the pandemic. But many are saying their paychecks are not matching the longer, more stressful hours.

So, Nature Coast EMS is asking Citrus County commissioners for more money. 

What You Need To Know

  • The pandemic has put a major strain on first responders

  • Nature Coast EMS is asking Citrus County for $1.6 million in additional funding to increase wages

  • An official says EMTs make just more than $9 an hour and paramedics make less than $13

“I’ve been a paramedic since 2013 and I’ve been here since 2015,” Bradley Knoll told Spectrum Bay News 9. “I had a father that had a motorcycle accident, and after his motorcycle accident, I wanted to know more about emergency medicine.”

Watching him work, it’s clear that Knoll loves what he does. But he says it’s no secret that he and others are burned out.

“COVID has presented a lot of challenges for healthcare professionals all around,” said Dan Brady, Professional Development & Outreach Battalion Chief. “EMS is certainly no strangers to that. We’ve been at the tip of the spear for this pandemic.” 

The team doesn't have a full roster, but Brady says he is working with the county to attract more help and keep current employees.

“Right now, we get about $800,000 subsidy from the county, which is significantly small,” he said, revealing that EMTs make just more than $9 an hour. He says paramedics make less than $13.

“We were about 9% self-paid before, and now we are about 29%. So that means those people often times aren’t about to pay their bills.”

Because of that, Nature Coast EMS is asking the Board of County Commissioners for an additional $1.6 million to increase wages.

Citrus County leaders are expected to give the first responders their answer on Sep. 14.