Valley EMS Companies Dealing with Paramedic Shortage
HARLINGEN – A paramedic shortage is impacting local EMS companies. Workforce Solutions in Cameron County said this need can be seen across the nation.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to various EMS companies across the Rio Grande Valley. They each said they are in need of more paramedics for their staff, which also leaves many working overtime just to fill the gaps.
We spoke with paramedic John De Los Reyes who’s been on the job for the past two years.
"The willingness to provide and serve my community is something that's been in my background, my family background," he said.
De Los Reyes said lately, he's experienced the shortage of others like him first hand.
"If someone doesn't come in, you might have to be staying over for an extra 12 hours, sometimes an extra 24," he explained.
He said with the way things are right now, overtime is the norm.
"We have OK days where it's not too busy, and then we have days where you're averaging a call every hour," said De Los Reyes.
Ideally, De Los Reyes said you want to have two paramedics on board an emergency service truck. He said right now, it's only one.
When you're the only paramedic on board, he said, you're left to do everything when the calls start coming in, “those calls can add up pretty quick."
We also spoke with veteran paramedic Rene Perez who said this is the most need for paramedics he's seen.
"I've been a paramedic going on 28 years and a nurse for 20 years, and I can tell you that probably in the time I've been here, it's the worse time we've been short with paramedics,” he told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.
Perez feels the reason for this shortage is linked to students in the medical field pursuing other options.
"New students going on to nursing school and that type of thing, and so you lose some of the paramedics or medics that are working in the field," he said.
Both Perez and De Los Reyes said they are doing what they can to be ready when you need them.
Perez added they do a lot of outreach at local schools to try to tell students about the rewards of being a paramedic.
Workforce Solution Cameron is also helping to fill this shortage. According to the center's regional director, Henry Castillo, each year, more jobs in the medical field keep opening up in the Valley.
Right now, they are urging anyone interested to come to any of their locations. They will work with you to see which job will be the right fit. In some cases, they can help with training.
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