MARION, S.C. (WBTW) — Authorities in Marion County say they are working to overcome a shortage of EMS workers and ambulances that is affecting both city and county operations.

At least six ambulances are currently out of service for various reasons, officials said, adding that more EMS workers at competitive salaries are also needed in order to provide adequate service to residents.

According to county administrator Tim Harper, the county currently has five paramedics, one advanced EMT, six other EMTs, one driver and just two ambulance units. In addition, three more drivers or trainees are scheduled to start working this week.

At full staff, there would be nine paramedics, nine and three ambulances. 

“Marion Rescue Squad is currently aware of Marion County’s EMS shortage,” Alan Ammons, president of the Marion Rescue Squad, said. “Marion Rescue Squad is committed to providing the highest level of care to its citizens and visitors. Because of this commitment, we are currently assisting Marion County by providing one advanced life support ambulance whenever possible to help respond to 911 calls.” 

Public safety salaries have been raised during the past two years, but one retired paramedic said it’s still difficult to keep up.

“We’ve always been underpaid,” William Blake said. “Everybody is keeping up except Marion County with the wages, so we’re losing people to other counties. We’re just a training facility basically.”