Imperial county residents could pay extra for emergency services

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Gold Cross AmbulanceEL CENTRO, CA – If paramedics in Imperial County go on strike, as they may within the next ten days, it could cost more money if you call 911 for an emergency.

An Imperial County official said if a strike is not averted and paramedics walk off the job, the county would have to hire replacement paramedics. If that happens – residents could pay extra for calling 911.

Cedric Cesena, Imperial County Emergency Services Manager, says Gold Cross is contracted by the county to provide full emergency services to taxpayers.

If paramedics go on strike, the county will then be forced to hire up to 16 replacement paramedics from other private companies.

Cesena said it would be possible to fire Gold Cross and hire a new company, if paramedics go on strike,  but taking this action would need approval by the county board of supervisors.

Cesena says this option would also prolong the process.

“An ambulance with 2 personnel ALS on a mutual aide response is $180 an hour and that is set by the EMS Authority from the State of California,” says Cesena, “The first 24 hours of a mutual aide response are at no cost and, initially, the county would be responsible for the payment of any resource that is requested to provide services to the public.”

Gold Cross and the paramedic’s union are still in negotiations.

Paramedics want a $1 pay raise – from $9 to $10 – better health care benefits, and upgraded vehicles.