Finding a solution: Charlotte, Mecklenburg counties sign agreement

Published 2:54 pm Thursday, May 25, 2023

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In an effort to better provide fire and EMS to local residents, officials from Charlotte and Mecklenburg counties have entered into a Mutual Aid Agreement. Under the deal, both groups agree to provide services to each other should it be needed.

The agreement is intended to improve firefighting and EMS capabilities within and around both jurisdictions.

“This will benefit them (Mecklenburg) and us,” said Charlotte County Director of Public Safety Chris Russell. “It will probably benefit us more because they have more assets.”

As part of the agreement, Mecklenburg and Charlotte will work to provide each other fire suppression and operations, fire prevention, hazardous materials response, specialized rescue response, incident management and emergency medical service within their capabilities available at the time a request for such service is made.

When it comes to EMS Charlotte County has been struggling with staff issues and financial burdens with overtime expenses being one big issue facing the squad. 

 A 2022 American Ambulance Association study of employee turnover found that 39% of part-time EMTs and 55% of part-time paramedic positions went unfilled.

Squad Captain Matthew LaMotte said, “We need members. Staffing is a big issue, and surrounding counties are offering better pay and benefits.”

According to LaMotte, in talking with squad members who have left, pay was the most significant factor in them leaving.


A national issue

Charlotte is not the only county faced with EMS shortages and staffing issues are not the only thing to blame.

The EMS industry is facing an unprecedented crisis, with rising costs, supply chain disruptions, and declining fee-for-service revenue leading to critical conditions for agencies across the US. In an effort to raise awareness of this issue, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) conducted a groundbreaking survey of EMS agencies, gathering data on the current state of the industry.

The survey revealed a stark reality: applications for paramedic/EMT positions have dropped by an average of 13% compared to FY19, with 65% of agencies reporting a decrease in applications and 27% reporting a decline of more than 25%.

Meanwhile, costs for personnel, vehicles, equipment, and supplies have skyrocketed, with survey respondents reporting an average increase of 11% for wages and 12% for equipment and supplies.

Respondents predicted these increases will continue or be even higher through 2026.