Board approves new chief’s plan to upgrade department technology, develop new partnerships and raise staff wages as significant hiring efforts underway
It’s only been a month or so since Shane Wheeler assumed the role of the first full-time paid chief of the Volunteer Medical Service Corps of Lansdale.
But it’s been a big month.
The board of directors recently unanimously approved Wheeler’s plan that will see the department modernized through a variety of measures.
The plan he said has been the culmination of what he has seen and heard since taking over the department on Jan. 3.
“Over the past few weeks, I have taken in the stories, the opinions, the criticism, the hope, the fears, and the facts,” Wheeler said. “What I have discovered are possibility and opportunity.”
He said he sees challenges in the department, but by working together the VMSC can continue fulfilling its mission and serve the region well.
“I seek concert for a shared success that can be realized built upon the foundation left behind by our founder and those who came before us,” Wheeler said. “I lay out a strategy rooted in kindness and generosity and nourished by our commitment to our communities.”
That strategy includes pay raises, new technology, reorganization and a new partnership with the Jefferson-Einstein Health EMS and Disaster Management program.
“With a commitment to improving the lives of our teams our board approved a one million dollar increase in salaries,” Wheeler said.
VMSC pay rates are now among some of the highest in the country, with emergency medical technicians starting at $25 per hour, advanced-EMTs starting at $27 per hour, and paramedics starting at $31 per hour, with the hopes of attracting top quality candidates to serve the NorthPenn community.
Wheeler said he hopes the increase is fruitful as the department looks for more talented individuals to fill their ranks.
Currently, the company is doing a large hiring process for EMTs, A-EMTs, and paramedics, with leadership roles also available.
“We are needing to hire about 24 people,” said administrative manager Bryson Schroeder. “We are looking for the best and brightest across the U.S. to fill these positions.”
On the technology front, Wheeler said the plan will address hiccups currently in the organization.
“Investments in mobile data, intranet, tablet patient care reporting, media, and organizational platforms will streamline our workflow and allow timely communications,” he said.
Organization communications, he hopes, will also benefit from a change from an organizational framework that would move VMSC from a volunteer appointment model to a career advancement model.
“The reorganization of the continuity of command, and the proportionate distribution of work will allow for timely and accurate outcomes,” Wheeler said.
The structure makes clear career and volunteer departments and provides a distinct chain of command, he said.
The current leadership under the new structure includes; deputy chief Lori Dusza, shift commanders Jeff Owler and Ron Wilson, assistant chief volunteer coordinator Mike Rennard, lieutenants Brandon Smith, Brandon Bonjo, Abbey Akins, Collin Hunseeker, Jon Deitmeiter, and administrative manager Bryson Schroeder.
More appointments may also be added, Wheeler said.
He also wants to make sure his employees can benefit from continued education, in order to best serve the needs of the region.
“To achieve mastery, we must invest in education,” Wheeler said. “In what is believed to be the first of its kind in the area, I am pleased to announce that the board has approved a training collaborative between VMSC and JeffSTAT EMS Training.”
The deal will see JeffSTAT deliver 624 hours of continuing education, including ACLS, PALS, ATLS, ABLS, ASLS, and an immediate focus on pre-hospital airway management, to the VMSC staff over the next 12 months.
In that time Wheeler also plans to create a satellite training center at VMSC to conduct initial certification courses for EMTs and advanced-EMTs. “I believe that these changes and others will significantly improve our services to the North Penn area,” Wheeler said. “My staff and I look forward to working to transform the VMSC into a leader in emergency medical services.”