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Statewide EMS worker shortage has many concerned

Many departments in South Carolina are struggling with staffing shortages, and now our emergency workers are putting out a call for help.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — They're the people we call when we're at our lowest, EMS workers in the private and public sectors are being hit hard, all trying to cover shifts with minimal staff.

A statewide EMS shortage has many feeling overworked and some wanting to leave the profession altogether. 

Many departments in South Carolina are struggling with staffing shortages, and now our emergency workers are putting out a call for help.

RELATED: Orangeburg County faces emergency medical services staffing shortage

Paramedic Patrick Harley is one of them. "We have a massive shortage of EMTs." Harley says, "these crews are working standby days. Some of crews last week worked seven days and are now on their eighth day."

The director for for Life Medical Transport says, "We're understaffed by about 10 EMTs right now. We're working almost twice the double hours right now."

In Kershaw County, the situation isn't any different. EMS director Gerald Blanchard says the department is trying to fill vacancies.

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Posted by South Carolina EMS Association on Wednesday, August 18, 2021

"There are times when the volume is high, staffing is low, we don't have the number of trucks on the road," said Blanchard. "The workforce shortage is creating a strain on all EMS services."

According to DHEC, across the state, there are more than 7,000 EMTs and more than 4,000 paramedics. 

Henry Lewis with the South Carolina EMS Association says they're doing everything they can to boost recruitment efforts. 

"What we're looking to do is find people that are unemployed, underemployed or perhaps have never thought about EMS as a career option and hopefully drive them into our education and certification at the entry level."

RELATED: 'A hardship': SC EMS officials describe hiring troubles throughout the state

"South Carolina traditionally runs a little over 1.2 million calls for service a year," said Lewis.

The SC EMS Association has been awarded $350,000 in funding from the state government to boost recruitment efforts.