AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The national shortage of emergency medical technicians means it is hard to keep ambulances staffed. But local companies are working to make sure that when you call 911, experience people arrive. When that becomes difficult, they train them.
“Due to education and low pay,” said Jamey Crosby, Chief of Operations for SouthStar EMS.
Recruiting and keeping EMTs and paramedics is a tough job in Georgia and South Carolina and across the U.S.
Corsby told NewsChannel 6, “It takes almost two years to get educated to become a paramedic once you get finished with your EMT course.”
Pay is a concern too. For a 24 hours on, 48 hours off shift, the pay is in the $30,000 range. Crosby told us the state of Georgia tried to close the revolving door by lowering staffing standards to only require two basic level EMTs in trucks. In South Carolina, only one EMT is required.
He added, “The basic level will not be able to provide the advanced level of care such as putting in IVs, pushing drugs, and be able to do the advanced cardiac life support.”
SouthStar EMS and Gold Cross EMS both work to keep advanced EMTs in every ambulance, which is above the state standard. And both companies have paramedics that can rush to any area.
The companies point to billing issues too impacting staffing.
Gold Cross EMS Chief Operating Officer Steven Vincent told us, “If that person has medicare, for instance, of that $1,000 ambulance bill we may only get $250-$300 and then have to write off the rest. If it’s medicaid, medicaid says we don’t think that patient needed to go by ambulance. We’re denying this claim.”
Crosby said what could help is appealing to congress and state lawmakers to help like they did with doctors and nurses. “Get the legislation on board to try to help us out with getting people.”
Both companies offer competitive salaries. Vincent said a basic EMT working 24/48 can start off at $35-45,000. Gold Cross will offer benefits and tuition reimbursement. Crosby said the average pay for a paramedic is $39,000.
Both companies will train you.
Vincent added, “We always run two classes at the same time. We always run an advanced class and an EMT class that goes on all year long.”
Anyone interested in becoming an emergency medical technician should contact SouthStar EMS Senior Chief of Operations Travis Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here. For Gold Cross EMS, click here.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps