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Horry County first responders sound the alarm on overtime

(WPDE)

Medics working for Horry County Fire Rescue say they're putting in twice as many hours as the department faces a staffing shortage.

Multiple medics told ABC15 that for every scheduled 48 hours they work each week, they're also being asked to work an additional 48 hours in the department's "rolling mandatory" overtime system.

"This mandatory overtime is forcing personnel to work an average of 96 to 120 hours of overtime on top of their regular rotation of 212 hours per 28 day cycle," Horry County Professional Firefighters Union President Rob Mullaney explained to Horry County Council members.

Under a rolling system, there are no set overtime schedules. Rather, people are required to work overtime as officers cycle through a list of names.

The medics told ABC15 that the cause of the problem isn't a lack of pay, but rather a morale and personnel issue. They said the department has high turnover, which is causing people to leave as fast as the county can recruit.

"We're hiring every day. It's not like we're not trying to hire," County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said. "We just implemented a new program to bring in part time EMT's."

A county staff member said there are five recruits currently going through training, which is about a two year process.

Lazarus promised the firefighters in attendance that public safety staffing will be examined during the county's budget retreat later this year.

Mullaney said he looks forward to working with the county to find a solution.

"The potential is not being tapped, and we want to make sure that it is," he told reporters. "We want this to become the progressive department that it has the potential to be."

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