WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – Williamson County commissioners approved the budget for the next fiscal year Tuesday, allocating $888,000 for a new ambulance and six EMS personnel.

Mike Knipstein, director of EMS for Williamson County, said the new unit will serve the northeast area of Round Rock. He said dispatch data indicated a need for emergency services in the area. He attributes this to the rapid growth much of the county is experiencing.

“There’s just so much development going on with family moving to that area,” said Knipstein. “With more people, there’s more call volume.”

Knipstein said the search for new personnel will start next month. Once hired, recruits will likely start their training with the county in the new year, with their debut on duty estimated to start in the late spring or early summer.

Knipstein said the emergency medical field is experiencing shortages like other professions. With this in mind, he said the county has raised the starting pay for EMS by 25% over the last two years. The starting salary for these upcoming recruits is $71,200.

“We’ve had to increase our wages to attract more people to the business. Along with also increasing wages for our paramedics that are on staff to show our appreciation,” said Knipstein. “It’s a multi-pronged approach of getting people into the field and to serve their citizens.”