EMS directors in Kentucky struggling with staffing shortages

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 6:32 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Just about every business you go to lately has “help wanted” signs up—it’s a trend across the country and in Kentucky.

Turns out, that worker shortage isn’t only affecting businesses.

Multiple fire chiefs and EMS directors say they have enough paramedics, but just barely.

“The big challenge is trying to find paramedics. To work. They’re short throughout the state, and throughout the nation if you read everywhere,” said Tim May with Garrard EMS.

That has led some departments to make changes to their schedules.

“We’ve had days where we’ve had to shut down apparatus or rearrange, either you’re riding an apparatus that’s a fire suppression apparatus, based on the nature of the call determines what you’re pulling out of the station in sometimes,” said Christopher Whiteley, the interim Winchester Fire chief.

Whitely said the training required to be certified can be used at local fire departments, but a lot of people are ending up in the private sector.

Money is also a concern for smaller departments.

“Because there’s a lot of times I could get better paying jobs elsewhere and maybe work less hours for that same amount of money,” May said.

But they say there is an upside to that demand, for those who do want to serve their community.

“Well there’s still a lot of people to get into it to help others. That’s what they feel their calling is,” ___ said.

“There’s lots of industries, whether it be the restaurant industry or you know the manufacturing industry, that are begging for people to come work. Take advantage of those opportunities because now those career paths that looked unattainable at one time or right there, they’re right there at the door all you have to do is go through it,” ___ said.

The one big exception in our area is Lexington. A spokesperson for their fire department says they are fully staffed when it comes to paramedics.

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