Lack of EMTs causing concern in parts of Eastern Kentucky

Lack of EMTs causing concern in parts of Eastern Kentucky
Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 4:44 PM EST
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - Eastern Kentucky emergency officials are making a coordinated effort to keep their ambulances stocked full of qualified and trained emergency medical technicians.

Dale Morton is the director of emergency transport services at Pikeville Medical Center. They’re the only level two trauma center in the state.

“You just can’t throw somebody that’s rolled a 4-wheeler forty foot over a bank in the backseat of a car and bring ‘em to us, that person needs care on their way here,” he said.

He says PMC sees patients from 26 counties in four states and he says it’s often the work of EMTs making the difference in whether or not a trauma patient has a good outcome.

“It is a rewarding job because you get the satisfaction of knowing because someone walked out of a hospital three weeks after having a heart attack because you provided good quality CPR while you were en-route to the hospital with that person,” Morton said.

They often see patients involved in accidents along the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system in rural Appalachia and time is of the essence.

“You know they always talk about the golden hour which is the first hour after the injury and that’s the hour the EMT or paramedic has them in the back of the ambulance getting ‘em to us,” he said.

The commonwealth needs more EMTs, but the interest has struggled to meet demand.

For many, the financial burden keeps them sidelined. That is until PMC announced a $200,000 grant provided by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services to offer EMT training to at least 36 men and women for free.

Women, like Christine Tchalikian, an athletic trainer at the University of Pikeville, are taking advantage of this education.

“When our kids get hurt, if it’s something out of our jurisdiction, we call EMT during football games,” she said. “EMS is on-site in case we need to ship off kids, so I just wanted that extra step to give myself knowledge to be more helpful to my athletes and to the community.”

The training is 400 hours and taught a couple of nights a week and the occasional Saturday by Pikeville firefighters, hoping to keep quality medical personnel in the region.

“There are so many backgrounds in the classroom which is also great because you get to learn from those other backgrounds,” she said. “You have dispatchers, you have firefighters, you have CNA’s, you have all of these people who are trying to better themselves and better the community by learning and being EMT’s so it’s a great experience.”

It’s life-saving knowledge that could change the future of healthcare for Eastern Kentucky.

The first class is underway, but they are recruiting for the second class. Contact Mitch Case at, the Sr. Battalion Chief with the Pikeville Fire Department for additional information.