WashCo Transitions Volunteer EMS into County Staff

Washington County recently approved a plan to transition Volunteer Emergency Medical Services companies’ career staffing into County Employment.
Last month the Washington County Board of County Commissioners approved a transition plan to shift the Volunteer Emergency Medical Services (EMS) companies’ career staffing into County employment. The Division of Emergency Services is authorized to transition the Volunteer EMS companies’ career staffing into County employment in the late Spring of 2023. The voluntary transition will begin by transferring staff from Williamsport Fire and EMS and Smithsburg EMS into County employment. Furthermore, the County will start evaluating and determining the most economical and feasible approach to a countywide billing service. A countywide billing service will establish uniform billing rates and billing processes throughout the County, relieving the burden of billing services from the volunteer corporations.
According to the press release:
“Washington County Government is committed to providing outstanding services to its citizens. As we continue to look for ways to enhance public safety services, we have full confidence that this transition will progress us in the right direction.” – Commissioner President John Barr
“Washington County Government is proud to continue its collective partnership with the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and each of the volunteer fire and EMS companies throughout the County. While the County moves forward with the transition, it is important to remember that these volunteer companies will continue to depend on the donations and support of citizens,” – R. David Hays, Director of Emergency Services.

In 2007, a workgroup of fire and EMS officials in Washington County conducted a study on the future of EMS. The study highlighted challenges the volunteer EMS companies endure, including issues related to staffing, financial, and administrative functions. These challenges were carefully considered, and Washington County Government, in partnership with the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and each volunteer fire and EMS company, determined the delivery of EMS services in Washington County could not remain sustainable under the current deployment model. Therefore, consolidating all supplemental career staffing under the Division of Emergency Services would be necessary. Additionally, a consolidation allows full and part-time personnel to be utilized throughout the County, enhancing service levels and administrative efficiency.
Currently, five of the eight volunteer EMS companies have indicated an interest in moving forward with conversations to consider the transition. The transition requires the development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to govern the relationship between the County and the host companies. This deployment model will help provide equity across the system with standardized competitive salaries and benefits packages.