DETROIT (WJBK) - They race towards danger, working to save lives on a daily basis. On Wednesday, the City of Detroit recognized their immense value by announcing a pay raise for emergency medical workers.
During the ceremony, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan touted the hard work of first responders.
"They were here when the response times averaged 18 minutes and the times took up to an hour, and they've been the team that's now brought us to the national standard of 8 minutes when you call 911," he said. "They've done an absolutely remarkable job."
To reward their dedication, the city is boosting pay for EMTs and paramedics with a 4 percent raise across the board.
"We're not where we need to be but, again, we're moving forward. We're moving up and we're taking everybody with us," said Jaynee Ayers of the Detroit City Council.
The added cost of the pay raise was covered by savings within the department from training firefighters to also act as medical first responders.
Union leaders credited the mayor for raising pay well before the current contract was even up. Under the new deal, EMT staff can earn even more money through good attendance.
"They are the unsung heroes of public safety," said Detroit Fire Department Chief Eric Jones.
But the union says it's not all about the paycheck for these brave men and women.
"The thing that they ask for the most is not a pay increase. The thing that they ask for the most is the love, respect, admiration from the public that they have dedicated their lives to serve every day," said Chief Sean Larkins of the Detroit EMS division.
The new contract will last three years. It still needs final approval from the financial review commission, but the mayor expects that to happen quickly.
"As the city's economics improve, we raise the police 4 percent, we raise the firefighters 4 percent and now we're fulfilling the promise to our EMTs," Duggan said.