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Ambulance companies are sounding the alarm on shortages

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Posted at 10:02 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 09:53:07-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — They're there when you have an emergency, and now they're sounding the alarm.

Ambulance companies are facing a statewide shortage. According to the Michigan Association of Ambulance Services, there are around 1,000 openings for EMTs and paramedics in the state.

It's always a two-person crew inside a Life EMS Ambulance.

"We use these tablets. And the calls will pop up on the tablet, and you just have to hit 'accept.' Then you can hit 'en route,' and the map will show up, so it gives you directions to the call," Life EMS Ambulance Deputy Director of Operations Aaron Schut told FOX 17.

This ambulance company has over 400 men and women serving ten counties here in West Michigan. Scott, whose focus is more behind the scenes, finds himself back on the front lines as a trained paramedic.

"It's probably been a solid six months since I ran an emergency call, but it's getting to the point where the volume is still there. It's not just us; all the transportation agencies are struggling for people," Schut said.

His crews aren't the only ones needing people. Dutton Fire Department posted a message on its Facebook page thanking Wayland Ambulance in Allegan County for making a 17-mile trip to help them out.

The city of Sturgis is now implementing "The Safety Net Ambulance."
The public safety department says when LifeCare Ambulance response times are longer than acceptable, their firefighters will step in to help.

"You know, there's no question that there's some extended response times and given communities. Again, thankfully, we have great mutual aid amongst all the EMS providers in West Michigan," Life EMS Ambulances President Mark Meijer said.

Meijer says a year ago, there weren't many entering into their field.

"Total company-wise, we could probably hire between 30 and 50 EMTs... that would give us a higher depth of resources to help take care of our customers better," Meijer said.

To meet their need, they're doing what they can to attract more people to work for them.

"We're also doing a lot where we're paying for your training. In other words, you make a commitment to work for us for a period of time. We're going to take care of the cost of your EMT training as well as your paramedic training," Meijer said.

Meijer says on average, a paramedic can make from $22 to $30 an hour.

"Yeah, absolutely. Life EMS is looking for high-quality EMTs. And paramedics," Meijer added.

FOX 17 spoke with Wayland Ambulances about that call earlier this week.
They tell us this is a common practice for other agencies to help out.

Meijer says it doesn't matter who gets there first. He says he'd rather have a quicker response time than have no one there at all.

RELATED: Ambulance companies concerned EMT and Paramedic shortage will impact Michigan response times

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