EMTs sounding their own alarms as industry-wide shortage impacts patient care
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Almost every industry has been dealing with worker shortages since the pandemic, but not every industry performs life-saving measures.
Ohio Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are calling on lawmakers to make a change as low pay and high stress have many leaving the job and therfore threatening patient care.
“We all want money. That’s great that we could be getting $24 an hour, that’s great, but I would much rather have better equipment, safety equipment,” said EMT and Superior Ambulance manager, Chris Baker.
Baker says the pay is low, and sometimes the stress can be high, but even worse, he doesn’t have all of the proper equipment to do his job. “We carry people, essentially, on a sheet, because we can’t afford better equipment to enable them to get into their house.”
Baker works for a private EMS company, meaning he can respond to 911 calls just like public EMS does, but he also makes non-emergency transports.
“So, think of it like this, they begin the life-saving, we maintain it,” said Baker.
Government data from 2021 shows the average EMT makes under $20 per hour.
Superior Ambulance Regional Development Manager, Michelle Dobrosky, says that’s because private EMTs are reimbursed through Medicaid, which pays lower in Ohio compared to other states.
“We just get those reimbursements, there’s no subsidies, and there’s no funding through the government for us,” said Dobrosky.
With so many EMTs feeling the same way Baker does, the extreme shortage is starting to back up intake at local hospitals according to former EMT and paramedic turned Superior Manager, Kyle Truax. “People don’t understand how important private EMT is to the whole healthcare system.”
Now, the heroes sticking it out in the industry are turning to state legislators to reform Medicaid reimbursements.
“We make a difference, what are they doing to make a difference for us,” Baker said.
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