The pandemic has caused shortages for many industries including paramedics. EMSA officials said there’s multiple reasons they’re a bit shorthanded, but they have been getting creative to fill the void until more paramedics join their ranks.
EMSA has been taking the shortage seriously, especially with a predicted nationwide shortage of 42,000 EMTs and paramedics by 2030.
One reason they have been a little shorthanded has been that paramedics schools put things on pause during the pandemic.
“Many of those programs involve a practical element of being in the class doing skills test or learning how to do a tracheotomy,” said Adam Paluka, the chief of public affairs for EMSA. “Well in the pandemic it wasn’t safe or best practice to have people in a room doing that close contact work.”
To alleviate some of the shortage they have been able to take credentialed members in educational or supervisor roles out of their offices and have them staff trucks.
But even with trucks staffed Paluka said they have faced issues with bed delay.
"When an EMSA crew gets to the hospital with a patient they can't hand them off because there isn't an available bed,” said Paluka. “They have to stay with the patient until a bed is available."
To combat that they hired a Transfer Of Care (TOC) medic.
"That is a credentialed medic in the system who is stationed at the hospital,” said Paluka. “That is who the paramedic and EMT can hand the patient off to, to get the truck back on the street."
Paluka said they are also working on implementing a program to have some part-time paramedics come in and lend a hand.