New hires at the Kingfisher Fire Department and EMS typically start with basic emergency medical technician licenses and go through additional training to achieve higher levels of certification over the course of their employment.
While the city pays for the classes and books for advanced EMT and paramedic training, the 522 Ambulance District board voted recently to reward those with advanced licenses with a one-time stipend for their personal commitment to achieve higher certifications.
“The 522 board voted to pay our paramedics a stipend of $1,000 and $500 to those who’ve completed their intermediate or advanced EMT certification,” Chief Tony Stewart said. “It’s a one-time payment and the board will re-evaluate next year as to whether they’ll repeat it.”
Approved by county voters, the 522 ambulance district is supported by property taxes and provides extended ambulance coverage beyond the city limits.
Stewart said the time commitment for the Advanced EMT license (what was previously called Intermediate EMT) includes 320 classroom hours followed by 116 clinical hours in the field and a national licensing test.
EMTs with advanced licenses who choose to become paramedics then face an additional 1,000-1,260 classroom hours and 500-1,000 clinical hours, depending on the program, plus national and state testing.
All advanced licensing levels also require annual continuing education, Stewart said.
The city pays for direct and indirect expenses of the advanced training in exchange for a three-year employment commitment after advanced licenses are obtained.
(Firemen/EMTs who leave the city’s employment within three years of receiving advanced licenses are required to repay the city’s direct education costs for books and tuition as well as as the expense of shifts covered by others while firemen were attending class.)
The 522 board wanted to additionally reward the personal time and effort required to achieve advanced licenses through the stipends.
“It’s a huge personal commitment of time away from their families to get and keep advanced licenses and the board wanted to reward that commitment,” Stewart said. “It’s something that was proposed by a former board member five years ago and the board now feels the district is in a financial position to do that.
“Once the auditors confirmed this was a valid expenditure of 522 funds, the board approved it.”
The four firemen who hold paramedic licenses and qualify for the $1,000 stipend include Capt. Richard Butts, Capt. Ryan Gibson, Justin King and Brandon Courteau.
Firemen who have Intermediate/Advanced EMT licenses, qualifying for the $500 stipend, include: Stewart, Capt. James Schroeder, Lt. Tyler Sigl, Lt. Cliff Crow, Lt. J.R. Williams, Jared Heinrich, Landon Timmons, Thomas Vogt, Kolby Kramer, Mitch Tollefson and Kelby Benda.
Four more firemen are currently completing Advanced EMT training, Stewart said.
“Together with the paramedics and the advanced/ intermediate EMTs, we have a fantastic group of people that put their talent and skills to work every day for our community,” Stewart said.