The Emergency Medical Services Authority says it is seeing staffing shortages across the state resulting in a desperate need to hire more employees to fill shifts.
Right now EMSA says they are laser-focused on getting paramedics in to help relieve those who are having to pull overtime to help combat the Covid-19 pandemic. EMSA spokesperson Adam Paluka says they are down at least twenty paramedics in the Tulsa area and several more people are needed in the western territory near Oklahoma City that EMSA covers as well. He said this is a nationwide problem and is not limited to just paramedics and EMTs. Paluka says medical staff, in general, is needed as the pandemic continues to cause burnout in the workplace or even causes people to leave due to illness or death.
He says since the beginning of the pandemic they have been struggling to get people interested in getting certified and says retaining employees has also been difficult due to the demand as more people leave the field.
“Sometimes we think okay we’ll do what we’ve done and do it harder, but we’ve realized that what we’ve done isn’t going to work for right now, right now is a very unique time when it comes to hiring and getting the right people,” Paluka said.
He says they did have a 60-day period of much higher wages for everyone working since they had the extra money. He said the larger paychecks were a good incentive but not sustainable for a long period of time.
Paluka said they are seeing longer call times in some cases, but most of those have contributing factors such as a bed not being available at a hospital when they arrive with the patient. Paluka says in 2020 there were 1,500 fewer people who took the registration test compared to the year before. He says although they do have a major need, they are still making sure they hire the best.
“They have to have their licensure, they have to go through our academy,” Paluka said. “We want the residents to know we aren’t cutting any corners, we are finding the best men and women to really take care of you in your time of need.”
EMSA is currently giving a $20,000 sign-on bonus for new paramedics joining their team. Other positions are being offered to hire incentives as well.
All application information can be found at joinemsa.com.