Metro EMS still short-staffed after new EMTs hit the streets - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Metro EMS still short-staffed after new EMTs hit the streets

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – More EMTs are working in Louisville, but the department is still short-staffed.

A class of 20 recruits started studying to become EMTs in January. They had to complete 168 hours of instruction and pass their tests to be certified by the Kentucky Board of EMS. In April, 13 EMTs graduated. One student is retesting, and the others left for different career opportunities.

Josiah Nelson and Ryan Nalley are two of those new graduates, and they said the new job is nerve wracking because there is a lot on the line.

“We’re new," Nalley said. "So there’s a lot of pressure ... Going from the classroom to the street, there’s a big change there.”

Both EMTs said when they feel overwhelmed with a call, they rely on the training they received to make sure every patient is cared for properly.

“You always go back to the basics,” Nelson said. “Make sure they’re breathing, make sure their blood is pumping and make sure they have an airway that’s open and working.”

Nelson said Nalley start their shift at 6 a.m. and will typically make 15 runs a day. They said they’re busy all the time and rarely get breaks between making runs, transporting patients to the hospital and filling out paperwork.

With each run he makes, Nalley said he learns something new. He said his understanding of Louisville’s drug epidemic has changed since becoming an EMT.

“A big misconception a lot of people have is they think it just happens in a certain area or happens to a certain group of people," Nalley said. "But one thing I’ve learned is drugs aren’t prejudiced. They can affect anybody, any families ... doesn’t matter how much money you make. It can happen to anybody, anywhere.”

Nelson said there are still calls that take him by surprise.

“It really makes your heart skip,” Nelson said about some hectic runs. “Your pulse increases, you start breathing a little quicker, your adrenaline kicks in. Because it could turn into anything.”

But thanks to their training, Nelson and Nalley said they feel prepared to take care of the community they call home.

“It makes me feel really good, just being there to be a helping hand to others and help brighten somebody’s day in any way that I can,” Nalley said.

Many departments across the country are experiencing shortages of EMTs and paramedics. There were hopes the recruit class would bring the department back up to full staff. However, there are currently 20 EMT vacancies. 

Spokesperson Mitchell Burmeister said Louisville Metro EMS continues to recruit more new EMTs from other departments. Ten EMTs are currently in the interviewing process and could soon be hired. Burmeister said the new union contract is helping to attract more potential employees.

As the 13 new EMTs hit the streets, Louisville Metro EMS is busier than ever:

Calls for service:

January-April 2016: 39,752

January-April 2017: 41,628

Transports:

January-April 2016: 27,633

January-April 2017: 28,016

It is unclear when the next recruit class will start.

Related Stories:

Louisville Metro EMS in 'dire' need of new hires

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