ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) — First responders across the state have been sounding the alarm on staffing shortages. Police Officers, fire fighters and paramedics desperate to fill open positions.
“I'm not sure why people aren’t entering the field,” says Jim Cook the Assistant fire chief in Royal Oak.
Cook says his department hasn’t operated at full capacity for years because hiring fire fighters is becoming more of a challenge.
”Back when I got hired in over 30 years ago there was 4-5 hundred people applying for these jobs ya know just for a city like Royal Oak now I'm lucky to get 9-10 people.”
And it’s a problem seen across the board. Police officers, correctional officers and paramedics all desperate to get qualified people through the door. To help, Governor Whitmer created the First Responder Training and Recruitment Grant Program. It's $5 mill in total, any Michigan municipality can apply for 100,000.
“Unfortunately this isn’t going to solve our staffing shortage,”says Angela Madden the executive director of the Michigan Association of Ambulance services (MAAS).
Madden says right now the state is short 1,000 EMT’s and paramedics. She says the grant money is needed, but most EMT’s don’t qualify because they are not government run.
“In 2021 68% of Michigan of EMS transports were handled by non-governmental agencies who are not eligible for this grant program," says Madden.
According to MAAS it will take 20 million dollars to train the number of EMT’s and paramedics needed, so although they won’t get funding this time around, Madden says they are hopeful.
“We are 100% open and excited to work with the governor and the legislator on providing some recruitment and retention for EMS personnel,” says Madden.
The money from this grant program will come to departments on a reimbursement basis and all applications need to be submitted by February 15.