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Sunday, October 24, 2021

The State of The Paramedic Profession

Rigs Just Sitting Due To Staffing Shortage
I have this unique view from the head of the bed. And I work on the front lines of this war against COVID-19. And I have this platform that gives me a voice. And I have so badly wanted to share my experiences here. But it's been so busy I have barely had a chance to check-in. But here I am. And this is what I have to say. 

I want to start not by talking about my job, but by talking about the EMT profession. In this war on COVID, they have it pretty bad. And it's not just that there are lots of cases of COVID they have to deal with because COVID really hasn't affected them. Most people with COVID get sick and walk into emergency rooms on their own two feet. And it's later, after they get admitted, and as the disease progresses, that they end up either getting better or taking a turn for the worse. What is ailing EMTs is the post-COVID state of the economy. 

Just like other professions, the EMT/PARAMEDIC profession is facing a severe staffing shortage. You can get into theories about why it is happening. In my humble opinion. one of the main reasons is because the government is paying people to stay home. Another reason is that it is now so easy to get food stamps or other government assistance. So, for this or whatever other reasons, many people are choosing not to go to work. 

So there is a nationwide worker shortage. Nearly every job is short-staffed and looking for workers. Nearly every place you go you can see help wanted signs. And the EMT/PARAMEDIC profession is no different. 

It's so bad that we have patients in the hospital that cannot be transferred to other facilities. And the reason is that there is only one RIG in Shoreline County that is fully staffed. And I had a chance to talk to that crew today. Mr. Paramedic and Mrs. EMT were at my hospital. They said they have the only operational rig in all of Shoreline County. He said we have lots of rigs. But we have no staff to put into them. In fact, he said they are facing such a shortage of staff that if one more person were to quit, they would have to go out of business altogether. 

Why are people quitting? It's because all these other professions have openings. And you can pretty much pick and choose where you want to work. And you can choose to go places that are offering huge sign-on bonuses and a higher hourly wage. Mrs. EMT said she is making less than what they are paying some people at Mcdonald's. And that means that she is getting paid less than $17 an hour to save lives. How sad! 

I will blog later about the RT staffing shortage and the RN staffing shortage. And I will talk about efforts to keep us from quitting. And efforts to bring in more RTs and RNs. Mr. Paramedic said they were offered one check for high-risk jobs. And they have had none since. And they have had no other incentives to stay. At the same time, RTs and RNs have received bonuses, raises, and retention pay. So, for this reason, many paramedics and EMTs have quit for better-paying jobs that are probably less stressful, such as working at McDonald's. 

So, for now, we have one Rig. We have one ambulance in the entire town of Shoreline, in the entire county of Shoreline. We have a patient that needs to go to Big City Hospital to get rehabilitation. And Mr. Paramedic said they cannot make that transfer. He said doing so would leave Shoreline with no ambulance. So, if they did take that transfer, and there is a call for an ambulance, a rig has to be sent from another town. So, a person could potentially be having a heart attack and no one will arrive on the scene for hours. And that is not good. 

We have had patients in the CCU needing priority one transfer. And we have had to call a helicopter in to take that patient because there are no rigs available. That's kind of a waste of that resource, but we have no other option. The helicopter should be on call for other emergencies. But, here we are using them just for a simple transfer due to a staffing shortage. Of course, there have been times a priority one patient has to stay in our emergency room for hours waiting for an available rig. 

This spotlights the need for ambulance reform. Something MUST be done to give these good people better pay. If anyone deserves it, our Ambulance Crew most certainly does. And if such reform is not done. We may be left with ZERO RIGS. 

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