The Odessa Record -

EMT shortage is critical


Last updated 5/31/2019 at 12:44pm

Last week the nation celebrated EMS week. Unfortunately, Odessa, like many rural communities, needs more EMTs. Washington’s smallest communities are among those being hurt the most. Rural areas typically don’t have enough volume to employ full time EMTs and therefore rely heavily on community members to gain the necessary credentials and fill the need by sharing response call with others who typically have full time “day jobs”. OMHC pays each EMT a small hourly rate to be on call and a competitive wage when actually on duty as an EMT. We do not want to rely on services 30 minutes or more away to serve our 911 needs, but the number of available EMTs is frequently too small to staff an ambulance. OMHC EMS Coordinator, Miranda Taylor, notes that in addition to becoming an EMT, she shares this other unique option, “You don’t need to be an EMT to drive an ambulance but we do require at least a CPR class and EVIP training. The CPR class is roughly four hours of training and the Emergency Vehicle Incident Preparedness is a 4-6 hour course.” Odessa currently is limited on staffing for EMT so is very willing to spread the EMTs over more crews and have a driver with only the CPR and EVIP training accompany the EMTs.

OMHC now has an EMT instructor on staff. Eric Cassidy, the new laboratory director, lives too far away to be on an EMS crew with call, but we are thankful for his expertise as an EMT instructor. In the past, students would drive to Reardan for courses. Now they are offered locally at OMHC. The course is designed for two evenings per week and each Saturday for approximately 3 months. We are happy to schedule a class once we have 4-6 students who can commit to a call team. One must be at least 18 years old and have no felonies on record. OMHC pays the cost of the class for anyone willing to commit to the OMCH EMT call schedule for a minimum of 18 months and who successfully completes the course and national exam.

We are in high need for community response to this EMT crisis. If you are able to participate as a driver (with EVIP and CPR) or as an EMT student, please contact OMHC HR Director, Jessica Strode, right away. She can be reached at 509.982.2611 ext. 195. EMT staffing shortage is a problem that threatens wait times when someone calls for an ambulance. In Odessa, non-critical (ie non-helicopter qualified) transports wait an average of four hours when a transport crew is not available. This occurs if we cannot staff the 911 service temporarily with other EMS team members while the primary crew takes a transport to a higher level of care and if one of the two ambulances has mechanical problems. Help ensure that has adequate Emergency Response by considering an evening and weekend EMT position or by becoming a driver.


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