The pandemic has caused shortages in many industries, including paramedics. EMSA officials said there were several reasons they were a bit understaffed, but they got creative to fill the void until more paramedics joined their ranks. .
EMSA has taken the shortage seriously, particularly with a projected national shortage of 42,000 paramedics by 2030.
One of the reasons they’ve been a bit short of staff is because paramedic schools have put things on hold during the pandemic.
“Many of these programs involve a hands-on element of being in the classroom taking a skills test or learning how to do a tracheostomy,” said Adam Paluka, EMSA’s public affairs chief. “Well, during the pandemic it wasn’t safe or best practice to have people in a room doing this close contact work. “
To alleviate some of the shortage, they have been able to remove accredited members in teaching or supervisory roles from their offices and hand them truckloads of staff.
But even with manned trucks, Paluka said he encountered problems with being late in bed.
“When an EMSA team arrives at the hospital with a patient, they cannot hand it over to them because there is no bed available,” Paluka said. “They have to stay with the patient until a bed is available.”
To combat this, they hired a transfer of care physician (TOC).
“It’s a doctor accredited in the system who is stationed at the hospital,” Paluka said. “That’s who the paramedic and paramedic can hand over the patient to, to get the truck back on the street.”
Paluka said they are also working to implement a program for part-time paramedics to come and assist.