COLUMBUS, Ga. — We’ve received multiple complaints about local paramedics being mistreated, overworked and underpaid.
As a result, we’re hearing that dozens of paramedics have left over the course of two years.
Stephen Bush says he worked for the Columbus Fire Department for 16 years as a fireman.
He says during that time he decided to operate as an EMS paramedic.
“When I left the department I was making 44 thousand dollars a year,” says Bush.
Friday, we met with Bush, a current paramedic, and three former paramedics with the Columbus Fire Department.
They say, over the course of two years some 20 paramedics have chosen to walk away, causing the department to be short-staffed.
They say, part of the reason for the departures was due to a high level of disrespect from Fire Chief Jeff Meyer.
“Couple of years ago I put together a package it broke it down by the section of the department which we had the operating field medics, what medics you had that weren’t riding the trucks for various, different reasons: better job, better pay.” says Bush.
Bush explains the outcome of presenting that package.
“I presented it in a Battalion meeting chief meeting and handed it to him and with the hope and understanding that something would be done and I realized during that time, that there wasn’t going to be anything done.” says Bush.
I also received pages of complaints and concerns from current medics with the Columbus Fire Department.
I’m told they were afraid to sit down with me Friday because Chief Meyer put a gag order in place- when it comes to discussing the shortage concern.
One person writes in part, “Currently there is barely more than 30 field personnel at the rank of fire medic still employed.”
Another writes, “The eventual result being that over the last two years it has been a daily event to reach “level zero” multiple times a day. Meaning no ambulance is available to take a 9-1-1 call.”
Another provided a medic call log from March 28th of last year.
Based on the log, the medics reached level zero- nine times that day alone.
Another current medic says the Chief has responded to these concerns SAYING- “Look I’ve got two years left and i am just looking to ride this out.”
Chief Meyer’s statement to me reads in part- we have addressed this challenge, “We continue to provide accredited paramedic training and offer incentive pay of five thousand dollars annually to personnel that complete The National Registry Examination for Paramedic.