First responders facing staffing shortages and lengthy wait times for patients to receive medical care

Local News

In a medical emergency, every second counts. However, EMS staffing shortages are adding lengthy wait times for patients waiting for life saving medical attention.

Local EMT’s say depending on where you live and the resources available in your area, you could have to wait if you call for an ambulance. That’s because there is an EMT shortage. Until finding increases to support higher wages, things likely aren’t going to get any better.

On Thursday morning, a 63-year old man, possibly suffering from a stroke, had a lengthy wait after calling for help. The first ambulance to respond to the dispatch call said it was 29 minutes out.

About nine minutes after the initial call, another ambulance crew said its response time would be ten minutes, meaning the man who could have been having a stroke would have waited 19 minutes for help to arrive.

The problem is there’s just not enough EMTs.

“It’s a big struggle trying to attract people to this line of work with the rate of pay and the expectation and the responsibility.,” said David Basnak, EmergyCare.

With companies like Hobby Lobby paying its employees $18.50/hour, it’s becoming harder and harder to attract EMTs.

“That’s what we start new paramedics at and new paramedics is a year plus training that they have to go through and they have a huge responsibility from the Advanced Life Support side. EMTs start anywhere from $13-$15/hr.” Basnak said.

The lack of volunteer EMTs at local fire departments is only making the matter worse.

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“It’s also a concern that we have with the entire county, actually the entire region. There is a major volunteer shortage which puts a major strain on the volunteer fire departments. When they are unable to answer that responsibility, that falls onto a lot of us as a paid service.” Basnak said.

Last year, EmergyCare responded to about 2,000 calls outside of its primary response area. If you’re interested in becoming an EMT, EmergyCare is hiring.

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