STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
Three additional paramedics are coming to the Burnet Fire Department to help cover an increase in calls.
The department reported a total of 4,631 medical emergency calls in 2018, a 15 percent increase from 2017.
With three more paramedics, the department will go from nine staff members per shift to 10 per shift.
Burnet Fire Chief Mark Ingram said the department is performing interviews and in the process of taking more applications.
The increase in population in the northern half of Burnet County as well as a rise in traffic along highways are all factors leading to the call volume increase, Ingram said.
With an even number of personnel per shift, the department can put an extra vehicle in the rotation to respond to calls.
The population growth and related call increase has been expected and planned for, Ingram said. However, the 15 percent number was higher than usual.
“That’s a huge increase,” he said. “Five to six percent would be normal but not double digits.”
With more calls comes more revenue to offset the additional hires. However, Ingram presented to Burnet City Council three different revenue scenarios based on the unpredictability of payments.
“If it says up like they are right now, it’s closer to a break-even number,” Ingram said. “We could be close to that, but it’s so unpredictable, the numbers may not stay up. If they fall off, we could end up with a negative number.”
The three additional hires approved this year follow the city hiring another three last year. Ingram said that, as growth continues, the department has plans to apply for a grant to fund more staff for the coming year.