Paramedic Shortage in Lincoln
Something that isn’t usually connected to having a shortage on are the brave rescue workers that work in extreme weather conditions, long hours, and dangerous situations. Firefighters, EMT responders and police officers are some of the women and men that help keep Lincoln the safe city that it’s known to be.
Lincoln Fire and Rescue is currently facing a paramedic shortage. Lincoln runs an average of six ambulances a day but receive enough calls to need to run about eight ambulances. “Lincoln Fire and Rescue is looking to hire at least 10 paramedics this year,” comments Lincoln Fire Chief Michael Despain. “After that, we would still need to add about 10-15 [paramedics] each year for the next five years in order to meet the needs of Lincoln.”
Even after the long hours and hard work, it’s all worth it to see a job well done. “It takes a certain type of person who is willing to put a lot of themselves into this career,” comments sophomore international rescue and relief major Dan Hernandez. “In my opinion, people are starting to lose the attitude of putting others first before themselves which might have something to do with the shortage that Lincoln is going through.” Having the desire to serve is the number one thing that’s important in becoming a paramedic.
Another factor possibly affecting the low numbers of new paramedics not only here but across the country is a lack of understanding. It’s easy to think that the job of rescue workers is as action packed as the movies portray them to be, but that isn’t always the case. “This is a very rewarding profession but it take a lot of hard work,” comments EMS coordinator Kyle Kuehmichel. “People will get into this career field and realize that it’s not everything they thought it was going to be, which then results in high turnover rates.” The longevity of an EMT or paramedic isn’t a full 20 years like it used to be—after about 8 years people will usually change careers.
Despite all that’s going on, Lincoln Fire and Rescue is still hopeful for their future. Daele Binns, junior international rescue and relief major, has advice to anyone who is thinking about pursuing a career in any of the fields under IRR: “I read once a quote by Henry David Thoreau that said ‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams’ which inspired me to ignore the negative opinions about EMS, and to strive towards what I wanted for myself and for my future.”
To find out more information about Lincoln Fire and Rescue, go online at lincoln.ne.gov/city/fire/index.htm or follow them on Twitter at @LincFireRescue
Caroline Guchu is a junior studying communication.