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American Ambulance Association’s disturbing warning: EMS shortage threatens 911 system

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Emergency medical service providers are ringing alarm bells across the nation over a shortage of workers, claiming that they aren’t “bleeding” any longer, they are “hemorrhaging” and it could destroy the 911 system.

The American Ambulance Association has sent a letter to House and Senate leadership informing them that the “nation’s EMS system is facing a crippling workforce shortage, a long-term problem that has been building for more than a decade. It threatens to undermine our emergency 9-1-1 infrastructure and deserves urgent attention by the Congress.”

“The magnitude has really blown up over the last few months,” American Ambulance Association President Shawn Baird told NBC News. “When you take a system that was already fragile and stretched it because you didn’t have enough people entering the field, then you throw a public health emergency and all of the additional burdens that it put on our workforce, as well as the labor shortages across the entire economy, and it really has put us in a crisis mode.”

In 2020, almost one third of workers left ambulance companies after less than a year according to NBC News. Eleven percent of those left within the first three months.

“It’s almost unmanageable,” asserted Ken Cummings, who heads up the Tri-Hospital EMS in Port Huron, Michigan. “I don’t think any EMS provider wants to go out in public and say that your service might be interrupted, but the reality is that because of the extremely low workforce situation right now, we are going to start to see delays. We’re already seeing that throughout the country right now.” He has over 1,000 openings currently.

“We’re not bleeding any longer — we’re hemorrhaging,” claimed Gary Wadaga, who operates Bay Ambulance in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“We’re not just facing a crisis, we’re in it,” Waldoboro, Maine, town manager Julie Keizer said in an interview with News Center Maine.

Keizer claims that one of the reasons for the dire situation is the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for medical workers. That includes ambulance services.

“With the mandate coming in, our service is looking at losing three people, other services are looking at losing people and that exacerbates the problem,” she stated.

“I think part of the problem is everybody thought they (workers) would conform because nobody wants to lose their jobs,” Keizer remarked. “But when you look at the rate of pay for emergency workers, they can make more delivering packages than patients.”

Deborah Clapp, who is the executive director of Western Mass Medical Services in Massachusetts, also claimed that low wages and burnout of overworked skeleton crews were significant factors behind people leaving ambulatory services.

“What happens if there’s a disaster of some sort? And a disaster doesn’t need to be very big in western Massachusetts,” she said to Fox News. “We need all these logistics to be able to step into place and handle these events and, meanwhile, 911 is still being called for the heart attack, the baby being born, the car crash. … We have one trauma center in western Massachusetts. One level one trauma center.”

According to NBC News, ambulance service operators claim that the pandemic has increased the labor shortage and put the nation’s emergency medical system at risk of a “death spiral” that could be almost impossible to pull out of.

“When you’re an EMS provider putting your life on the line and entering into a closed environment with infectious patients and you can make more money to work in an Amazon warehouse, it becomes really difficult to retain people,” commented Robert Luckritz, who is the chair of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians’ EMS Workforce Committee.

The impending crisis is worrying Americans and many blame President Joe Biden and his vaccine mandates:

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