Stress from the COVID-19 pandemic, population growth, and other factors have created an 18% increase of emergency calls to Buncombe County’s 911 Call Center over the past 12 months. During a briefing on Oct. 19, Commissioners were informed about the significant uptick of calls along with a pay bump proposal that would reward dedicated personnel who work grueling shifts responding to emergencies at all times of the day and night while helping further position Buncombe County as a desirable location for recruiting and retaining qualified Emergency Services staff.
In addition to taking on a considerable increase of calls, County emergency response personnel are also helping the City of Asheville cover its staffing shortage in various emergency positions. The confluence of these factors has created circumstances necessitating some County Emergency Service employees work overtime, remain on call while off duty, and assist in other ways vital to keeping our response teams staffed. The sacrifice and dedication Emergency Services staff have shown during the pandemic demonstrates the passion and commitment they have for keeping our community safe. To that end, Commissioners will consider providing a pay bump for extra shifts, overnights, on-call status, and other ways our emergency workers are responding to the increased call volume.
Proposed pay incentives and recruitment/retention actions
- Double Time Pay for EMS to align with 911 double-time pay (Reassess after three months)
- Receive double pay for additional shifts picked up in addition to scheduled overtime
- Night Shift Differential of $2 an hour for 911 Staff
- $2 an hour on-call pay for EMS and 911 Staff
- Additional units, vehicles, and equipment for EMS
The cost for these other on-call needs and emergency response assistance would be about $2.5 million. The Board of Commissioners is slated to consider the proposal during its meeting on Nov. 2.