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  Nationwide EMT Shortage Affecting Arkansas
Publicado - Published: 13/04/2007

BATESVILLE.- It's becoming a situation where there are plenty of ambulances, but simply not enough staff to drive them.

Considering it only takes one semester in college to become an EMT, this is disturbing to ambulance companies. "Our full time and part time EMT's and Paramedics have to work extra hours and overtime, which raises the cost of providing Ambulance service throughout the state," said Myra Looney Wood, President of the Arkansas Ambulance Association.

However, hiring new EMTs comes with its own set of challenges.

"It's really hard to recruit people coming right out of high school because most vehicular liability insurance companies really don't want to see under 21 age EMTs working in the field and driving emergency vehicles," said Wood.

Therefore, many ambulance companies are giving kids the option of working in dispatch until they can become of age.

However, another problem is simply competition.

"With low reimbursement, it's really hard to get those wages up there to be competitive with the other industries," said Wood.

As companies try to recruit new EMTs, they try to remind you what an exciting job it actually is, and how it changes on a day to day basis.

"There is an adrenaline rush. Every call is different. You never know what you are going to arrive on," said Kenny Tosh, the clinical operations director for Vital Link.

That constant variety of tasks make the EMT invaluable.

"EMTs help the paramedics out a whole lot. Without my EMT helping me, there's times I need more than two hands. I know that," said paramedic Stacey Mason.

"It's a very rewarding job. You are out here taking care of the sick and injured and you save a life. It don't get any better than that," said Tosh.It only takes one semester to become an EMT, and two years to become a paramedic.

A starting paramedic can make between 25 and 30 thousand dollars a year.

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