The pandemic-induced shortage of emergency medical technicians and paramedics nationwide is so dire that ambulance service providers warn of sharp cuts to services and longer waits for 911 calls — even when it’s a matter of life or death.
Companies have had to close, consolidate or come up with new strategies to answer calls, said American Ambulance Association President Shawn Baird, who added that there is simply not enough EMS personnel to cover calls in many parts of the country, especially during the pandemic.
The loss of staff to pandemic-related burnout and low wages has created a vicious cycle, requiring greater dependence on those workers who have stayed on. The situation has deteriorated to such a degree in recent months that ambulance services and industry leaders are pleading with Congress and state legislatures to help.
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