- Associated Press - Saturday, January 25, 2014

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) - A western Kansas county is paying advance tuition for two emergency medical technicians to get paramedic certification in a bid to hire and retain qualified workers.

Fire and EMS Chief Jay Taylor told the Ford County Commission recently the goal is to have at least one paramedic at each fire scene, but he doesn’t have the staff to do that now.

“We’ve had a very hard time getting paramedics,” Taylor said. “If we don’t grow our own, they won’t stay.”

One of the difficulties is finding employees who can adjust to the relative lack of urban amenities in rural west Kansas, where, for example, the closest major mall is 150 miles away, Taylor said.

The commission approved the $10,000 expenditure with the stipulation that the two paramedic students pass the class and certification exam, and work for the county department for at least two years, The Dodge City Globe reported (https://bit.ly/1ejNz60 ).

The new request is different than tuition reimbursement because the department is seeking payment in advance. Taylor said the financial burden on each employee, about $5,000 each, would be too much for the two applicants. The department has about seven paramedics.

“I have guys that are great (basic EMTs), and there are great (advanced EMTs), but if I had nine or 10 on-shift personnel it would make me feel a lot better,” Taylor said.

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Information from: The Dodge City (Kan.) Globe, https://www.dodgeglobe.com

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