Lynne Hermansen
Staffing shortages are forcing Johnson County Med-Act to change their operations.
Med-Act operates 20 ambulances for the county. 17 ambulances have a 24 hours a day staff and three impact ambulances are staffed eight hours a day during their peak demand times.
Sunday, September 4 impact ambulance employees will be reassigned to assist 24 hour ambulance operations for additional support.
All 24 hour ambulances will remain in service. Med-Act has a 11 percent vacancy rate and 14 Emergency Medical Technician and paramedic job roles to fill.
Paul Davis, Johnson County Emergency Medical Services Director, said the adjustment is focused on ensuring timely responses for the community’s needs.
“Knowing that they’re not 24-hour trucks, they’re not normally scheduled for the weekend, we took an opportunity within our all-hazards plan to reassign those folks temporarily,”he said.
The plan to operate for 120 days with the new, temporary plan or until additional staff are hired.
Johnson County Med-Act responds to an estimated 50,000 calls each year and transports 36,000 patients annually. They also provide special operations support to various law enforcement and fire departments throughout the county.
Davis said it is difficult to pinpoint what is causing staffing shortages, but the pandemic also put a major strain on healthcare professionals.
“That has put a tax on healthcare workers in all of our healthcare professions,”he said. “Nurses are tired. Physicians are tired. Risk support techs are tired. Risk support techs are tired. EMTs and paramedics are tired,”he said. “What I think is happening is we are seeing an exodus of those who are eligible to retire. We don’t have the ability to backfill completely to support those numbers who are retiring.”
Davis said the county is working to create and education pipeline to fill Med-Act positions going forward.
Med-Act has operated as a paramedic only ambulance service in the past. January 2022 the department began hiring EMTs to fill staffing needs.
Davis said emergency services are struggling nationwide.
“What we believe this will do is allow us to maintain a sustainable, advanced life support ambulance service and also allow those EMTs to move to a paramedic role through education,”he said.
People interested in an EMT or paramedic position with the county can find more information on the county website to apply.