New Castle County officials are actively taking steps to raise its number of emergency medical personnel.
On Tuesday night, public safety committee members considered a $198,975 increase to the Department of Public Safety division of Emergency Medical Services for 2014, and to increase the authorized number of positions by seven.
Emergency Medical Services Chief Larry Tan said that the division's annual loss of personnel to attrition averages six to eight people a year.
The increased budget would allow the division to overfill its coming 2014 paramedic classes, allowing them to stay ahead of the curve and absorb that attrition, Tan said.
He added that the division has received state authorization for 30 percent reimbursement of the expenditures for this project.
Tan said that their goal is to start the program in February 2014, using the Good Fellowship EMS Training Institute in West Chester, Pa., instead of the course offered at Del Tech.
Tan said the division used a broad outreach in recruiting people for the program, advertising on local television and radio stations, a variety of print and social media and even inserts in church bulletins.
In the end over 650 people responded, with roughly 360 of those moving on to eight weeks' worth of information and vetting sessions, where the job requirements and selection processes were discussed.
Applicants were able to speak directly with paramedics who had already been through the process and could help them get the best results from their experience.
Tan called the numbers an "unprecedented" response, adding that 40 percent of the applicants were minorities.
Committee chairman and county councilman Penrose Hollins, 4th District, called the increase a long overdue necessity. He added that he was impressed with aggressiveness that Tan and his recruitment team took in reaching out to the community for this opportunity.