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Calhoun officials discuss bonus for first responders

GRANTSVILLE – The Calhoun County Commission heard an update from emergency services and discussed options for potentially offering a bonus for EMS and 911 workers due to their increased hazardous positions.

According to Julie Sears, EMS director, call volume is starting to pick up again after the call level decreased.

“People are unfortunately getting out more so that means more calls for us,” Sears said.

She said the importance of wearing a mask and staying at home is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Calhoun County has seen four cases with two of them active, she said.

Sears said testing has increased so they may see some more positive cases come in.

She reported the agency has received its last shipment of supplies from the National Guard until at least August.

“I’ve divided it out as much as I could to the hospital EMS, 9-11 and the fire department, trying to make sure all our first responders are safe. (We’ve) had to have a couple of people quarantined. It puts a hardship on us, there’s very few of us at this point in time,” Sears said.

With the $100,000 Gov. Jim Justice sent to each county for Hero pay, Sears approached the commission and requested a bonus for first responders.

“I think it’s very important to show these people that they are appreciated. This community survives with these people helping them and I want to show them that we appreciate him,” she said.

She requested a $5,000, one-time bonus for their 18 employees from the 9-11 Center and EMS.

Commissioner Michael Hicks recommended applying for reimbursement for those bonuses so the county wouldn’t have to use those funds until they know it could be reimbursed.

“It was our full intention at least by the end of the year to give the money we need to figure out who is eligible to receive it. (We’d) be more inclined to give a smaller amount and more later on once we got more guidance from the other (counties),” Commissioner Kevin Helmic said.

Sears will continue to figure out how to apply for reimbursement to pay for these bonuses and the commissioners will work to figure out how to disperse the Hero pay.

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