Paramedic Shortage in Randolph County
"It was my son. He had an asthma attack," recalled Margaret Ann Janes.
"Emergencies happen more often than we like," said the district's Clay Joiner. "Unfortunately, while we may have a truck or ambulance to send, we have to have the trained people."
Trained people are either emergency medical technicians, who provide First Aid support, or paramedics, who can administer drugs, insert IVs and perform more complicated procedures.
"You're going from advanced life support, with a lot of intervention and a lot of medical miracles, down to basic First Aid and basic life-support skills," added Joiner.
So, district officials said the paramedic shortage can be the difference between life and death, literally, in an emergency situation.
The county ambulance district's five vehicles make 3,000 emergency runs a year with only four paramedics, and two of them are off the job because of injuries. But, that's not the worst of it.
"There are situations in other counties where, when a paramedic gets hurt, gets sick, goes on vacation, they don't have enough paramedics and then they're left to send out an ambulance with two EMTs on it," explained Joiner.
That leaves many people without help.
"I don't know what I would've done," admitted Janes.
And, that's also the situation the ambulance district finds itself in, not sure what it can do to have enough qualified people.
The district director cited several reasons for the shortage, including too few paramedic classes and too much burnout because most paramedics and EMTs also work other full-time jobs.