SIOUX CITY -- The Sioux City Council voted unanimously Monday to adopt a new salary schedule for Emergency Medical Services employees.
Sioux City Fire Rescue started the new EMS Division Jan. 1 to fill the void left by Siouxland Paramedics, the nonprofit agency that stopped providing emergency services at the end of last year, citing financial difficulties.
According to documents filed with the city, pay for Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) needs to be increased to be competitive with other employers and other EMS agencies. For example, an EMT Basic without experience started at $10 an hour in 2018. Under the new salary schedule, the starting rate increases to $12.30 an hour in 2019. Experienced EMTs will start one step above their start rate, while a step system will be implemented in the Lead Medic/Training Officer category. All steps are based on one year of service.
The documents state the payroll within the operating budget will also increase by 2.5 percent for a cost-of-living adjustment.
Ten EMTs and nine paramedics will receive a base $2 per hour raise. Some of the EMTs are or will be in the paramedic class and eligible for paramedic pay upon completion of the course.
The results of a walkability audit, which scored downtown Sioux City as "fair," were presented to the council.
Representatives from SIMPCO, Siouxland District Health Department, the Iowa Department of Transportation, a handful of city departments and residents who have visual or mobility impairments were involved in the audit. They traveled from the Wilbur Aalfs Library down Pierce Street to Walgreens, over to Nebraska Street, up to Fourth Street and over to the Orpheum Theatre. Along the way, participants documented holes in the pavement, uneven sidewalk, overgrown trees and bushes that were blocking pedestrian routes and other potential hazards.
Angela Drent, health promotion specialist for Siouxland District Health Department, told the council that a crosswalk at the southwest corner of Pierce and Fifth streets leads into a curb cut, when the crosswalk should actually be aligned with the curb cut. Drent also noted issues with three truncated domes at the intersection, which are designed to help individuals with visual impairments know where to cross the street.
"If you've got a wide intersection with those truncated domes, if they were to follow those alone and not any of the other cues, that would lead that individual directly into the middle of the intersection," Drent explained. "This is an issue that we have seen in several locations in the downtown area on this walk."
Councilman Alex Watters said he encounters some of these issues on a daily basis. Watters, a quadriplegic, uses a wheelchair.
"I think the thing that's most upsetting to me is I just want to make sure that we're not only addressing these problems that are maybe easier fixed, some of those that can be addressed, but also the new construction -- things that we can be doing going forward," he said. "There's no reason that we're not addressing some of these things, whether it's the truncated domes or otherwise. ... Just because we don't deal with it, there's a population that really is and would appreciate that being addressed."