Shortage of paramedics and EMTs impacting Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - When you dial 911 in a medical emergency, you expect an ambulance to respond to your location. However, a shortage of paramedics and EMTs could impact response time.
According to the American Ambulance Association, organizations across the country are struggling to fill paramedic positions.
“We’re certainly not immune, we’re seeing quite a problem here in the state of Kentucky,” said executive director of the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services, Eddie Slone.
Slone says Kentucky has been feeling the effects of the shortage in the Commonwealth since 2017.
“We’ve been certifying about 125, especially paramedics, per year. We’ve been losing about 150 that chose not to relicense and or work participate in the field anymore,” said Slone.
Of the roughly 4,600 licensed paramedics in Kentucky, Slone says only about 2,700 are participating in the workforce.
“We’re losing probably 25 more paramedics a year than we’re gaining,” said Slone.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists EMTs as one of the lowest-paying jobs in healthcare. According to the American Ambulance Association, low pay was the reason about one-third of all EMTs left the field back in 2021.
“Look at what inflation has done. You can go get a job making very similar pay with very similar benefits and not be out at two three o’clock in the morning navigating stairways and, and working holidays and the rain in the muck and otherwise,” said Slone.
While Slone says there isn’t one area of the state that isn’t struggling with the shortage, rural areas are feeling it the most.
“Even a particular service may have enough staff, but maybe their neighbors or an agency and that same county has difficulty finding staff. It’s certainly more in the rural areas,” said Slone.
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