GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — In one week, Guilford County commissioners are expected to make a decision on the fiscal budget for the next year. 

They are being asked for more dollars to attract teachers, sheriff’s deputies and medical first responders. 

At a Wednesday county commissioners workshop meeting, County Emergency Services Director Jim Albright told commissioners that his department needs around $40 million to operate next year and to limit the strain his first responders have been under.  

The shortages have continued to get worse, according to the director.  

20% of the positions in the department are vacant. Three individuals have resigned this week alone, with two of them doing so with intentions to leave the business altogether.  

“I’ve got 24 vacancies out of 204 authorities. I’ve got 15 in training. That’s 39 positions, and I can’t operate a system like this,” Albright said.

The director said that employees have left due to lower pay, longer shifts and an uptick in violence toward EMS crews and in the community.  

“I’ve lost six employees last year to Stokes County. I’ve never in my history ever lost that many employees to another provider,” Albright said.  

County EMS paramedics and EMTs respond to 10 to 12 calls in a 12-hour-shift.  

In May of 2022, there were 7,202 calls made, 97% of which were immediate care calls.  

61.8% were responded to in under nine minutes, while others took 15 minutes.  

Albright said they want 90% of calls to be responded to in under nine minutes. 

“We are making everyday decisions about what calls to hold, which calls to dispatch because we don’t have enough people which is time to dispatch, which is tied to compensation. Our employees are working beyond capacity,” he said.  

The budget recommendations are:  

  • $24.5 million for personnel services 
  • $2.5 million for supplies and materials 
  • $10.2 million for other services and charges 
  • $1.9 million for capital 

When asked if this would be enough to help get things back on track, Albright said, “I’ve stood in front of you all for years, demanding more money. This is not a problem that can only be solved by money. We’ve got to have people interested in this career. The problem is the majority of our solutions take time.”   

EMS has announced it will offer a $4,000 signing bonus for certified candidates who receive a job with emergency services.