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Paramedic and EMT shortage being felt in Southeastern Minnesota

A shortage of trained Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics is not only a problem for rural areas but the effects are also being felt in Rochester.

Posted: May 28, 2018 5:21 PM

ST. CHARLES, Minn. - A shortage of trained Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics is not only a problem for rural areas but the effects are also being felt in Rochester.

As a way to combay the dwindling numbers Mayo Clinic began its own Paramedic proram in 2014, but even that hasn't been filling all of the full-time openings within the Mayo Clinic system.

Kristine Engstrand is one of eighteen volunteers at St. Charles Ambulance just east of Rochester. On average, they will respond to 350-400 calls every year. The department is lucky enough to have two ambulances.

"The first one is scheduled and mandated by the state. We have to have 2 EMT's minimum and they have to be nationally certified, which is an extra exam we have to take," explained EMT Kristine Engstrand.

Essentially, if one of the ambulances is not staffed at all times and there was a call they needed to respond to, the state could fine them. The biggest challenge for St. Charles Ambulance is making sure the day staffs are covered, with volunteers busy at their full-time jobs.

The ambulance department has even gone so far as to offer financial perks to new recruits.

"What we do is actually pay for their schooling as an incentive. They do need to stay with us for two years," said Engstrand.

While many EMTs will stay with St. Charles ambulance, a handful of them will consider the job a stepping stone to being a Paramedic or RN. If they leave and take another position, it causes a cyclical shortage.

Engstrand believes a lot of people aren't looking to go into the profession because of the wages.

"The profession as a whole the salaries are low people have to do very stringent education to do what we do… that costs money and when the salary and pay scale is not supporting that it is a big deterrent," said Engstrand.

Not only that, but volunteers in St. Charles have a set number of hours they need to work a month and extra trainings.

Dan Anger directirs Mayo's Paramedic Program and said within the Mayo Clinic system there are currently nine full-time Paramedic jobs available.

"It has been taxing on some team members to fill extra shifts and go above and beyond the call of duty per say to help out and cover those shifts," explained Anger.

The program is graduating Paramedics, including Katie Meyer and Dan Patterson, both of whom are now employed at Gold Cross Mayo Clinic.

If you're curious what separates and EMT from a Paramedic:

"To become an EMT you have to take a one semester college course usually around 150 hours give or take where they learn life-saving maneuvers - basic life support, trauma care," said Anger.

Paramedics have more schooling and training as they're able to do more invasive techniques.

"Very extensive hospital skills from IV's and medications that we can give all the way up to some of the procedures that we can perform such as surgical airways," said Paramedic Katie Meyer.

The demand for EMTs and Paramedics is expected to continue. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics more than 30,000 new jobs are set to become available before 2026.

As another avenue to curb the shortage, Anger told KIMT the Mayo Paramedic Program is considering recruiting in high schools to pique students interest in medicine at a younger age.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 327477

Reported Deaths: 3751
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin688981130
Ramsey28948512
Anoka23196232
Dakota23102194
Washington14590120
Stearns14314121
St. Louis9280117
Scott881056
Wright827145
Olmsted702536
Sherburne608243
Clay521359
Carver501315
Kandiyohi432024
Rice427738
Blue Earth426617
Crow Wing376237
Otter Tail332725
Chisago326914
Benton317253
Nobles313731
Winona292031
Douglas278439
Mower270623
Polk266226
Morrison241730
Lyon228712
Beltrami227518
McLeod226517
Becker217619
Goodhue216930
Steele20568
Itasca202223
Isanti199517
Carlton198417
Todd187414
Nicollet169426
Mille Lacs161231
Freeborn15966
Le Sueur153511
Brown151015
Cass149910
Pine14298
Waseca141811
Meeker139011
Roseau12475
Martin121221
Hubbard117728
Wabasha11041
Redwood101720
Chippewa9508
Cottonwood9284
Renville92729
Dodge9110
Watonwan8824
Wadena8537
Sibley8194
Rock8019
Aitkin79530
Houston7694
Fillmore7480
Pipestone74718
Kanabec67714
Yellow Medicine67612
Pennington6758
Swift6149
Murray6064
Faribault5902
Pope5641
Clearwater5389
Stevens5333
Marshall5289
Jackson5181
Lake4437
Wilkin4115
Koochiching4106
Lac qui Parle3984
Unassigned38259
Lincoln3721
Norman3638
Big Stone3332
Mahnomen3164
Grant2956
Kittson2408
Red Lake2283
Traverse1521
Lake of the Woods1021
Cook790

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 234817

Reported Deaths: 2486
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34631341
Linn14655168
Scott1166189
Black Hawk11194139
Woodbury10622133
Johnson979337
Dubuque941594
Story698323
Pottawattamie664871
Dallas657159
Sioux380529
Webster371639
Cerro Gordo367649
Marshall357647
Clinton341444
Buena Vista313114
Des Moines298621
Muscatine298271
Warren291714
Plymouth284444
Wapello263772
Jones235917
Jasper229746
Lee225617
Marion210222
Carroll203624
Bremer200212
Henry19137
Crawford181016
Benton174023
Tama156641
Washington149715
Jackson148814
Delaware147021
Dickinson143811
Boone142412
Mahaska133328
Wright13007
Clay12254
Buchanan122010
Hardin121011
Hamilton117713
Page11664
Kossuth11608
Clayton11399
Cedar112513
Harrison110832
Floyd110219
Calhoun10907
Fayette108712
Mills10858
Lyon10619
Butler10576
Winneshiek102713
Poweshiek102013
Iowa100213
Winnebago94825
Cherokee9474
Chickasaw9084
Hancock9008
Sac8978
Louisa89321
Grundy88911
Allamakee87013
Mitchell8369
Cass83524
Union8166
Appanoose80713
Humboldt8015
Shelby79511
Emmet78626
Guthrie77115
Franklin76021
Jefferson7512
Madison7174
Unassigned7050
Palo Alto6734
Keokuk6477
Pocahontas5984
Howard5809
Osceola5411
Greene5401
Ida53013
Clarke5004
Montgomery49311
Davis4819
Taylor4773
Monona4516
Monroe45113
Adair4489
Worth3820
Van Buren3755
Fremont3743
Lucas3376
Decatur3290
Wayne3077
Audubon3052
Ringgold2382
Adams1792
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