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.

Confirmed Cases: 24190

Reported Deaths: 1036
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8181606
Ramsey2863122
Stearns201413
Nobles15125
Anoka136370
Dakota126354
Washington61731
Olmsted60810
Kandiyohi4901
Rice4522
Clay42426
Scott4082
Todd3130
Wright3051
Mower3031
Sherburne2372
Carver2062
Benton1753
Steele1590
Blue Earth1380
Martin1295
St. Louis11814
Freeborn1150
Pine890
Nicollet8610
Unassigned8610
Winona7915
Carlton730
Watonwan710
Cottonwood700
Crow Wing682
Goodhue663
Otter Tail640
Chisago611
Polk612
Itasca5410
Dodge520
Chippewa491
Lyon490
Morrison450
Meeker450
Le Sueur441
Douglas410
Becker390
Jackson390
Murray390
McLeod340
Isanti320
Waseca260
Rock220
Mille Lacs191
Faribault180
Swift180
Wabasha180
Fillmore171
Pennington170
Sibley160
Brown152
Beltrami140
Cass132
Norman130
Pipestone120
Kanabec111
Wilkin113
Marshall100
Pope90
Wadena90
Aitkin80
Koochiching70
Yellow Medicine60
Mahnomen61
Lincoln50
Renville50
Big Stone40
Grant40
Red Lake40
Redwood40
Clearwater30
Hubbard30
Traverse30
Lac qui Parle30
Roseau30
Houston20
Lake10
Kittson10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 19217

Reported Deaths: 531
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4160125
Woodbury274034
Black Hawk173944
Linn94976
Dallas89220
Marshall89216
Buena Vista7350
Johnson6149
Wapello5589
Muscatine55641
Crawford5142
Tama40227
Scott35810
Dubuque34518
Louisa34311
Jasper26116
Pottawattamie2578
Sioux2190
Washington1888
Wright1670
Plymouth1292
Warren1260
Allamakee1204
Story1091
Mahaska9310
Poweshiek908
Henry711
Bremer696
Des Moines621
Clinton611
Boone610
Taylor540
Clarke530
Guthrie503
Cedar461
Benton411
Webster391
Monroe385
Shelby370
Jones360
Hamilton350
Clayton343
Iowa330
Buchanan330
Osceola330
Marion320
Cerro Gordo281
Cherokee280
Madison282
Fayette270
Lee250
Winneshiek240
Monona240
Jefferson230
Harrison220
Davis210
Lyon210
Dickinson200
Grundy200
Mills190
Floyd191
Sac180
Humboldt170
Lucas170
Hardin160
Hancock160
Delaware150
Keokuk150
Clay150
Appanoose153
Butler151
Emmet140
Ida140
Page130
Greene130
Franklin130
Cass120
Howard120
Audubon121
Jackson120
Winnebago110
Pocahontas110
Chickasaw100
Carroll90
Van Buren90
Adair90
Kossuth90
Union70
Adams70
Montgomery70
Palo Alto60
Unassigned60
Fremont40
Mitchell40
Ringgold40
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Rochester
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 61°
Mason City
Overcast
65° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 65°
Albert Lea
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 66°
Austin
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 68°
Charles City
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 66°
Sunnier skies for the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Rochester People's Rally

Image

Religious leaders call for justice for George Floyd

Image

Rochester downtown under curfew Saturday night

Image

Sean Weather 5/30

Image

Governor Walz GivesUpdate

Image

Gov. Walz Addresses Minnesotans in Overnight Press Conference

Image

Riots, Fires continue in Minneapolis

Image

Protesters in Downtown Rochester

Image

Mower County Fair will go on as planned

Image

Minneapolis Gas Stations Shut Down

Community Events