I vote for higher pay. Becoming a paramedic is not a quick process, at least here. (I don’t know if these are state or federal guidelines, though.) IIRC, in Indiana you must qualify as an EMT (after completing the schooling and testing), work for two years while taking additional training, do additional testing, and then you certify as a paramedic.
Then again, if the county doesn’t require EMT/EMT-P certification, I guess they shouldn’t be required to pay extra for those who have it. However, in that case, those employees should be employed exclusively as firefighters, not as firefighter-paramedics. Which will lead to a whole new Can o’ Worms, should someone die because s/he was not treated in a timely fashion even though there was an firefighter-EMT/EMT-P on the scene.
My husband is a paramedic and at one time was slotted for a firefighter position. I don’t believe he would have received extra compensation for his medical certification, but he would have been limited in the medical care he would have been able to give as a firefighter. So essentially, his certification would have been fairly meaningless, as he would have only been allowed (or able, due to lack of equipment on the firetrucks) to use first responder-type patient care.
Does that all make sense? I’m exhausted and perhaps incoherent.