HUDSON — The city’s EMS service is hoping to implement new programs and services in the new year.

Hudson Fire and EMS Chief Jerry Varnes said upcoming plans for 2020 include setting up a newly remounted squad and a Rescue Task Force unit with the police department, as well as making the EMS reserve unit "into a fully outfitted fourth squad," thanks to a grant from the Laurel Lake Residents Association.

The chief is waiting to find out whether the city will receive grant funds to help purchase a fourth power cot and load system. In that system, the cot is raised and lowered with the push of a button, and using the mechanism helps prevent back and spine injuries in EMS workers.

On a personnel level, Varnes said he is hoping to replace three part-time medics and one full-time training coordinator, and noted his department is always looking to add more volunteers.

The additional programs, services and personnel should help EMS handle a rising number of emergency calls. Varnes said EMS responded to 1,730 emergency calls in 2017, 1,948 in 2018 and 2,044 last year. The number of emergency calls that EMS responded to this past December (154) was lower than it was in December 2018 (167), but higher than in December 2017 (138).

The EMS department and the fire department both operate from the city’s safety center at 40 S Oviatt St. Two squads of EMS staff members are on duty at all times in the building, according to city spokesperson Jody Roberts. An EMS squad responds to every fire call to be available to treat injured private citizens and firefighters. The fire and EMS departments respond to vehicle crashes if the police officer on scene decides that their services are needed.

Hudson EMS was founded in 1977 in response to residents’ desire for a local ambulance service. The department consists of 20 volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics, 18 part-time paramedics, four full-time paramedics, and two support staff. Hudson EMS also employs a medical director who responds to many of the emergency calls.

"Some members of other EMS services say they only see their medical director once a year at an annual banquet," said Varnes. "Our Medical Director Dr. Jay Carter often arrives on scene usually to observe, but sometimes stepping in when his skills are needed for the call."

All Hudson paramedics and EMTs (paid or volunteer) are nationally and/or state certified. Paramedic certification requires approximately 900 hours of training, and EMT certification requires 180 hours. EMT and Medic certifications combine to equal 36 college credit hours, sometimes more depending on the school.

Hudson is one of the few municipalities that has its own EMT certification course, according to Roberts. In partnership with Kent State University, the Hudson EMT training class happens twice a year and is one of the highest rated EMT courses in the state. EMTs graduate from the Hudson course with both a national and state of Ohio EMT certification.

All paramedics and EMTs, whether paid or volunteer, must pass the certification test and be fully certified to be a member of Hudson EMS.

After the initial certification process, paramedics and EMTs must take continuing education courses to be re-certified every two or three years, depending on whether they have national or state certification, or both.

"The compassion and dedication of our members is what I believe is the best part of our service," said Varnes. "Our EMS members are here because they love and believe in what they do, whether paid or volunteer. For everyone at EMS, it’s not about the paycheck, but about serving the community with the best care we can provide."