Shortage of first responders hurting response times

Another workforce affected by the pandemic, first responders and EMS workers report staffing shortages.

Lots of important jobs are going unfilled during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Schools don’t have enough teachers. Kalamazoo Public Schools has had to cancel bus routes due to a lack of drivers. And nurses are in high demand thanks to staffing shortages.

Now add to that list first responders.

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WXYZ in Detroit reported that there are more than 1,000 open EMT and paramedic positions throughout the state. Officials say that is impacting emergency response times.

Some of the attrition is due to retirements, resignations, and burnout. But data also shows that first responders are dying from COVID-19 at a high rate. Part of the problem is opposition to vaccination among first responders.

Dr. Christine Brent is the director of the University of Michigan EMS Fellowship Program. She told WXYZ that something needs to be done before things get worse.

“Unless we do something to address this shortage, it’s going to come to a point that when we call 911 and no one is coming, or no one is coming for an hour,” she said.


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