Americans face the possibility of calling 911 and there being no one to assist them as the American Ambulance Association is indicating that there is a labor shortage that could lead to nationwide delays.
According to Fox News, American Ambulance Association president Shawn Baird warned that the coronavirus has pushed the emergency medical services (EMS) shortage to “crisis level.”
The association president said that the problem has grown to such a fever pitch that it could undermine the nation’s 911 system entirety’s saying that it must be addressed by Congress immediately:
“This has been a problem that has that been developing over several years because of chronic underfunding shortfalls from Congress for ambulance services, but certainly during the pandemic things have hit a crisis level,” Baird told “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday.
“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of workforce attrition and schools had shut down paramedic training institutions and stopped graduating new students for the last year so we’re suddenly in a severe shortfall.”
The American Ambulance Association is so concerned about the shortage that they sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate saying that “nation’s EMS system is facing a crippling workforce shortage,” also explaining that it was “a long-term problem that has been building for more than a decade.”
“It threatens to undermine our emergency 9-1-1 infrastructure and deserves urgent attention by the Congress,” the letter continued.
As a profession, the industry sees a considerable amount of turnover. One 2019 pre-COVID study found that there is about a 20 to 30% turnover for EMTs and paramedics, which Baird pointed out when addressing the issue.
According to the association’s president, those statistics have increased since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the association has put forward some solutions for Congress to consider and they hope lawmakers “can take some action.”
“This is a very high-stress job and some people don’t realize what they’re getting into,” Baird said.
That combined with what the association president called the “incredible world” of coronavirus, wildfires and other natural disasters has exacerbated an already life-threatening problem.
“A number of paramedics and others are just saying they’ve reached the end of their limit because they’re working a lot of overtime when other people have left the field and they’re leaving as well, taking other opportunities,” Baird told Fox News host Pete Hegseth.
As a way of encouraging the current EMT’s to hold the line Baird said that, “We’re asking for an American hero one-time payment and having Congress take some action to get funding to the states to be able to recognize the men and women who have stuck this out and have done such a great job for us.”
“These folks take care of people who’ve had terrible injuries on the battlefield,” Baird said. “We need them when they come home to be able to get a job.”