Could a program used in Las Vegas help Detroit overcome the EMS staffing shortages?

Every recruit will be trained as firefighter and EMT

For weeks the Local 4 Defenders have been tracking staffing shortages for Detroit EMS crews.

DETROIT – Staffing shortages in emergency medical services fields are leaving EMS rigs in Detroit idle.

At normal staffing levels, the department has 25 EMS rigs ready to respond to emergency calls. Recently, at one point, that number was down to 10 rigs for a few hours one day. That can potentially impact response time.

A new program is being put to use in Las Vegas, Nevada that could potentially serve as a solution.

From now on, every recruit will be trained as a firefighter, and an EMT. There are two goals with this. The first is to fill the shortage of paramedics and EMTs that Detroit is facing. The second is to cut the workload for Detroit medics and cut their time in the ambulance in half. Their next shift will be as a firefighter.

“Our EMS employees are wonderful, hard-working people, but we were asking too much of them. So we are trying to balance that position to improve the job for the employee,” 2nd Deputy Detroit Fire Commissioner Robert Distelrath said.

Medic shortages aren’t just in Detroit. Mountain View Hospital in Las Vegas saw the medic shortage there and created a paramedic school right in their ER. Recruits trained side-by-side with doctors as emergencies came in.

There are limitations. The Detroit Fire Department, it’s trying to train recruits as fast as others are retiring.

Mountain View in Las Vegas has had success. Bejone Mixon is from Detroit and now lives in Las Vegas. Mixon said 24 men and women have already gone through the first class and are ready to be hired by area departments.

The system would work well in Detroit, because if the agency running the paramedic has the infrastructure and teaching coordination staff to be able to create this many new paramedics. Then the sky is the limit.

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About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.