RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Temporary relief is on its way as Wake County EMS copes with an ambulance shortage. FEMA will send four ambulances to beef up the county’s fleet.
It is just a stop-gap measure, beginning next Monday and lasting through Oct. 25.
Wake County EMS hopes it will help reduce response times and keep more units on the streets.
The county EMS tries to run 47 ambulances a day. With staffing shortages, sometimes that number is much lower and it’s not enough to handle all the calls which top 10,000 a month.
It’s a problem CBS 17 first reported in May.
Brian Brooks of Wake County EMS says they have units that sit idle for a shift because of staffing.
“Over the summer we’ve put ten units a day out of service for staffing,” he said.
There are so many calls that sometimes there are no ambulances on the streets for short periods of time during each day.
A Wake County EMS staffer who asked we not identify him says it’s frustrating.
Compared to several years ago he said, “staffing is worse, much worse. I’ve been in the system for several years and I’ve never seen it be worse.”
On Monday, four ambulances from FEMA will arrive to supplement Wake County’s fleet.
“It will decrease the workload of crews in the streets,” said Brooks.
It will also help eliminate long response times to non-life-threatening calls.
“Our crews are taking the brunt of the public’s anger when they wait 30 minutes for BLS (basic life support),” Brooks said.
Wake County EMS recently hired 25 new staffers from the academy who’ll be graduating soon, but it needs long term solutions
“We’re in a cycle right now where we are not seeing applicants to hire due to COVID shutdowns of schools a year ago,” Brooks said.
Wake County EMS is upping its recruitment efforts. It’s going to be a slow process to ease the staffing shortages with small steps being taken along the way.