By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- The Midland Fire Department is looking for more paramedics. Some have retired or moved away. Others are trading in the ambulances for the oil rigs.
"The call for those oilfield service people is very large and they're willing to pay for those people," MFD Assistant Fire Chief, Chip Balzer, said.
Contrary to popular belief, most of MFD's calls are for emergency medical services (EMS). Only around 10% of all calls are for fires.
"Our business is largely EMS related. Even though we're a fire department, we run the ambulance service, too. That's pretty much most of what we do these days," Balzer said.
The need for more applicants is growing.
Paramedic Tony Woodward says you can't buy the kind of happiness he gets from working at the fire station. "It's not just sitting behind the desk and doing the same thing over and over again. There are so many other jobs out in Midland right now that I could go make a lot more money at than what I make now but I don't feel like that's where my place in life needs to be."
Caring for the community is far more rewarding to him and all the other MFD paramedics.
"I can find people who are having their worst day ever and hopefully when I leave them they're a little bit better," Balzer said.
MFD no longer only recruits just once a year. Now, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you can apply. They've also started recruiting out-of-state.
"There are distressed economies all over the United States. In fact, they're laying off firefighters in many states and cities and we're trying to get in touch with those firefighters and let them know that if they have experience, then MFD has a job for them," Balzer said.
"The oilfield is not always going to be there. My job as a paramedic will always be here," Woodward said.