CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. — Starting Oct. 1, Citrus County Nature Coast EMS and the Citrus County Fire Department will merge together as one county department.
What You Need To Know
- Citrus County Nature Coast EMS and the Citrus County Fire Department are merging, effective Oct. 1
- Proponents of the move say it will mean better continuity of care and better pay for EMT's
- Once the merger happens, Nature Coast employees will have to re-apply for their current positions
Initially, Nature Coast EMS requested additional funds from the county government to help with wages, but the county responded by canceling the stand-alone nonprofit organization and combining it with the county's fire department.
“It was a surprise that it was going to happen so soon," said EMS professional development and outreach Battalion Chief Dan Brady. "They gave us about 16 days to merge with fire rescue, but we have a great relationship with all of the people who work for fire rescue so there’s definitely going to be some speed bumps and some hiccups, but it’s going to be a good thing.”
And officials say it won't only be a good thing for employees, but for Citrus County residents as well.
“It brings continuity to patient care," said Citrus County Fire Chief Craig Stevens. "First and foremost we want to make sure that we provide the best patient care to our residents and our visitors in Citrus county, and you have to have continuity with that.”
The merger will also give paramedics and EMT's the salary bump they've been asking the county for for years.
“That was the biggest struggle was getting the proper funding and everything will come under the county so they’ll be able to fix things quicker and get things squared away,” Brady said.
Nature Coast employees currently make significantly less than EMT's and paramedics in surrounding counties.
“Our plan to bring over to Nature Coast if they choose to apply for the positions with the county at the starting wage that Nature Coast was promising them with the increases and then of course most importantly is the benefits,” Stevens said.
Current Nature Coast employees will have to re-apply for their position once the merger happens.