ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – The St. Charles County Ambulance District was in a deep hole staffing wise as it struggled to keep up with demand when voters threw the district a vital lifeline.

Back in 2022, voters passed a measure to give the St. Charles Ambulance District an extra $13 million a year to attract paramedics and other staff. Chief Kelly Cope said the district was struggling for workers, and the tax measure made a big difference.

“An incredible difference. A very positive change for us because of the struggle with staffing and recruitment,” Cope said. “That has made a huge difference in our ability to impact staffing and to both treat the employees that are existing with the retention and recruit new employees.”

The chief said the district had several past instances where they only had single-digit applicants for double-digit openings.

“We have warehouse-working folks making the same or more than the paramedics and, of course, we feel very strongly about having exceptionally good clinicians on the street for our public,” Cope said. “And in order to compete in that kind of environment, we had to get more money. Public was great with giving us that additional money. It made a huge difference in our recruitment.”

The extra money allowed the district to hike pay from $21.24 cents an hour to $25.56 cents an hour, just what they needed to attract new workers and keep the ones they had. The ambulance district added 38 paramedic positions.

Chief Cope said it’s a critical undertaking for residents.

“I believe the importance is the fact that when the people are in need for what we provide them for emergency medical care, they want the best and we want to provide them the best,” Cope said.