BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Berkeley County EMS has named a new chief, and it comes at a time where they are seeing a record number of calls coming in.
“I’m 27 years down ‘Plan B,’” said Michael Shirey. “I originally thought I was going to go down a different path; I started out as a volunteer fireman.”
Shirey learned CPR and became an EMT with Charleston County in 1995. He started with Berkeley County six years ago where he was the assistant chief before his recent promotion.
“One of the things we need to focus on immediately is making sure our staff has everything they need personnel, equipment, training,” said Shirey.
Personnel has been a challenge. This month, Berkeley County hit 2,100 calls. That is the most ever in a month. At the same time, finding enough EMTs and paramedics is harder than ever.
“There is a shortage of both EMTs and paramedics. Primarily paramedics. What we are doing now is having to modify operations. Sometimes we have to run an ambulance with just EMTs on it; they do an amazing job, we’re also engaged in the community to try and develop more people to enter our industry.”
They are also working with the Berkeley County School District. “Cane Bay High School, in particular, is operating an EMS program and students are graduating with their EMT credentials in their pocket ready to work.”
Shirey wants you to know that there are enough crews in place to handle the call when you have an emergency.
“We are still able to respond to every call. Often, we do utilize our partners and our partners utilize Us- we’ve got assistance, we have great partnerships with Goose Creek City Fire Department as well as Dorchester County, Charleston County, we’re all working together.”
Shirey says some of his crewmembers will be honored Wednesday night at the Charleston Battery game for saving two lives.