The Gazette reported that ambulance services all over the corridor are short-staffed. The main need - Paramedics.
The pandemic has altered the normal medical staff needed in all departments.
Paramedics are a step up from EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) in training and ability. However, with the shortage of paramedics, the ambulance services use EMTs as a "stop-gap" to keep it running as best as they can.
EMTs can administer CPR, give oxygen, and other basic health procedures, while the paramedics can put in IVs, and administer drugs that may be needed. Both roles are important but a lack of paramedics could cause unfavorable outcomes, depending on the severity of the circumstances.
Ambulance services and 911 calls are utilized more over the last two years, than ever before due to the pandemic. Executive Director Keith Rippy of Area Ambulance Services said,
“We used to have folks come through the door with great regularity looking for a job. We haven't seen that for the past year.”
He mentioned that there was never a lack of applicants for the Cedar Rapids, Marion, and surrounding areas until the pandemic hit.
The issue isn't because fewer people are entering the profession. It's because those who are qualified or that position also have their pick of medical positions at hospitals anywhere, leaving the ambulance services lacking.
Johnson County Ambulance Service Director Fiona Johnson said that they usually have two paramedics per ambulance, per shift. Instead, they've filled those spots with EMTs when needed. She also says that EMTs do a fine job and end up with a lot more experience due to what's required of them.
This isn't just an Easter Iowa problem. Nationwide, paramedics are needed for the ambulance services, and for the same reason. Hospitals are also short-staffed, especially in emergency departments due to the pandemic. Trained paramedics are being hired on to ER staff to help the department keep up with the increase of patients coming in.
If you are a trained paramedic or want to know more about the lack of medical professionals, click HERE.