Nationwide paramedic shortage hits Southwest Florida

Ambulance rushes to an emergency. (Credit: WINK News)
Ambulance rushes to an emergency. (Credit: WINK News)

They are off to the rescue, responding to an emergency. But now, forced to work longer hours because of a nationwide paramedic shortage. Charlotte County Fire and Emergency Medical Service said it is impacting it.

“In the state of Florida right, now you’re required at least minimum to be a firefighter EMT in order to work in our agency,” said Michael Davis, deputy chief Charlotte County Fire & EMS. “With that being said we were having difficulties to finding dual certified firefighter and paramedics.”

One way Charlotte County Fire and EMS gets around the shortage is by hiring paramedics and then put them through fire school to become dual certified.

“Fire school technically is a three to four months school,” Davis said. “It’s full-time Monday through Friday 8 to 5 so after that period of about 12 to 16 weeks we have a dual certified individual that’s fully functional and employable.”

The agency recently hired 14 firefighter paramedics and six firefighter EMT are in the process of becoming paramedics but still, it is not enough.

“We don’t furlough anybody,” Davis said. “There’s no brown outs of stations. We currently will backfill with overtime until all vacancies are filled.”

Charlotte County Fire and EMS said it still needs to fill three more positions hoping others in the community are ready to join its team.

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