INDIANA (WTHI) - When Hoosiers calls 911, EMS workers are often the first ones on the scene, but the current workforce shortage is making that a challenge. That's because emergency medical service workers are seeing a shortage on workers nationwide.
According to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the EMS workforce needs to increase by 11% by 2030. That's to keep up with population demands.
Trans-Care paramedic Brenda Vorek has worked in the EMS industry for 15 years. She says the number of people becoming EMS professionals isn't going up. That means current workers have to take on more shifts.
"Any time there's an open seat, it's going to make it harder on the one's who are here. We do have a turnover, not just Trans-Care, but EMS in general," said Vorek.
Not only that, the growing population is leading to more calls. According to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS), calls increased 33% from 2019 to 2022.
Kraig Kinney is the state EMS Director for IDHS. He says people are mainly leaving due to retirement, low salaries, burnout, and people not renewing their certification. Plus, the job can be physically taxing. That results in the average EMS career only lasts for five to seven years.
"You can have the most traumatic call that you can think of, and you don't even get time for a breather, it's time to move on to the next call... so sometimes you're skipping meals, you're waking up in the middle of the night if you're doing a 24-hour shift," said Kinney.
To help bring numbers up and identify the key problems in the field, Kinney says IDHS is doing a collaborative study on the workforce industry.
"That is going to give us a lot of background as to why do people get into the profession and why do people leave, and sometimes why they don't want to join," said Kinney.
While being an EMS professional can be physically and mentally draining, Vorek says in the end, it's rewarding.
"Being able to help somebody again in their darkest time, where they truly believe is an emergency, there is no greater feeling than helping someone who truly needs helped," said Vorek.
To find out more about becoming an EMS worker, go here.