EMS agencies push for $20M to help recruit, train new first responders amid staffing shortage

Posted at 8:34 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 20:34:11-05

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — Emergency medical service agencies across Michigan are experiencing a staffing shortage crisis that has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Michigan EMS agencies have a plan to reverse this dangerous trend, we just need funding assistance from the state to make it happen," said Jason MacDonald, vice president of MedStar Ambulance Services who also serves as president of The Michigan Association of Ambulance Services.

To carry out that plan, EMS agencies are asking state lawmakers and the governor for $20 million to help fund the recruitment and training of at least 1,000 new emergency medical technicians and paramedics.

Ken Cummings, president and CEO for TRI-Hospital EMS in Saint Clair County, said the extreme staffing shortage is the result of a number of issues including not enough new first responders to take the place of those leaving the industry or retiring.

"One of the things I've shared, and this is not intended to be any disrespect to any other industry, but it's one thing to have to stand in line a little bit longer at the grocery store because the grocery store doesn't have enough checkout clerks to speed you through that process. It's a whole different matter when you're having a heart attack. And that's not a time to delay resources," Cummings said.

The funding request has the support of the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs, the Michigan Association of Ambulance Services and the Michigan EMS Practitioners Association.

Click on the video to watch Kimberly Craig's report.