The Antioch Rescue Squad plans to begin staffing an unused fire station to better serve the Chain O' Lakes and Antioch area during the busy summer months.
In addition, officials said squad members for the first time will be paid a stipend for uniforms, fuel and training to help offset some of their personal costs of volunteering.
Rescue Squad Chief Brian DeKind said staffing will return to the now-empty Antioch Fire Protection District Station 3 at Route 59 and Grass Lake Road from 5 p.m. Thursdays through 5 p.m. Sundays from May 23 to Oct. 31.
DeKind said the area surrounding station 3 is often busy in the summer due to its location near the Chain and Grass Lake Road marinas. Staffing it with an emergency ambulance crew improves overall service, he said.
"By putting a crew in that station, we can have a much faster response time to that area," DeKind said. "Also, when our other two crews are busy downtown, we'll have a third crew ready to move in as needed."
Another change is the decision to reimburse members for some expenses incurred while volunteering.
The new "paid on call" system reimburses members $25 per shift for expenses including meals, uniforms and fuel, he said.
There will also be a nominal payment to members who work a 12-hour shift and for transporting patients to nearby hospitals.
"Our volunteers have a much higher level of responsibility and burden than ever before," DeKind said. "This allows us to provide a nominal fee for their steadfast commitment to the Antioch community."
Despite members being paid the stipend, they will still be considered volunteers because any money a person receives will be used to help offset their own costs.
"For example, they will still need to fund portions of their uniforms themselves," he said. "We give them uniform shirts, but (the payment for) their hat and pants come out of their own pocket."
He added the stipend will help give members a little something back.
"Squad members have always absorbed the hard costs above and beyond the time away from their home and jobs, including their uniform costs, personal equipment costs, fuel, meals and the like," DeKind said. "This gives us the opportunity to help cover these costs."