LANSING, Mich. — The EMS staffing shortage is getting worse, making it difficult for EMS agencies to cover shifts and slowing down ambulance response times in some parts of the state.
That’s according to the Michigan Association of Ambulance Services, which represents and advocates for ambulance services.
“EMS agencies are facing a serious emergency that is making it hard for us to properly serve our communities,” said Ken Cummings, president and CEO of Tri-Hospital EMS in St. Clair County. “While the state budget is on hold in Lansing, the staffing shortage our agencies are facing is getting worse every day.”
MAAS says the paramedic and EMT shortage began a few years ago in Michigan and was exacerbated by the pandemic, becoming a “full-blown emergency.”
The shortage affects all EMS providers, including public, private and nonprofit agencies, but it especially hitting hard in smaller communities.
“It is an understatement to say we are facing a staffing emergency in EMS,” said Gary Wadaga, director of Bay Ambulance in Baraga in the Upper Peninsula. “We’re doing the best we can, but we need help to keep our existing paramedics and EMTs and bring in new staff to ensure we can protect the communities we serve.”
More than 1,000 openings for fulltime paramedics and emergency medical technicians are available across the state.
Michigan EMS leaders say state leaders should increase their budget to help raise pay for paramedics and EMTs to better recruit and retain individuals to the profession.
“We need to be able to serve our communities and that’s becoming harder and harder without more funds to attract more paramedics and EMTs into the field,” said Brian Scribner, executive director of Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service. “Every day this problem is getting worse, and we don’t have a second to waste. The safety of our communities depends on it.”