While all the talk in the headlines today about raising the minimum wage focuses on fast food workers, I would like to offer another perspective.
Emergency medical technicians play a vital role in pre-hospital care and are among the first to respond to 911 calls day or night. The national average hourly pay for EMTs is $12.50, however EMTs working in Thurston County earn much less. A full-time EMT working in Thurston County can expect to earn about $10 per hour regardless of experience or number of years on the job.
EMTs in this county must complete a 3- to 4-month program before earning their EMT certification, and even after that are required to complete ongoing training seminars outside of work, in order to retain certification each year.
They are often working 24 hour shifts, with little to no sleep, ready to respond to your emergency day or night, routinely going into hazardous and unhealthy conditions to assist patients at their worst moments and are regularly responsible for making a decision that could save someone’s life. A full-time EMT in our county will run an average of 15-20 calls on a busy day with each call lasting about an hour. Most are working 48 to 72-plus hours per week, away from their families and homes.
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It is time to raise the minimum wage in Thurston County, the only question is, “how much?”