LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — It has become increasingly more difficult for EMS companies to recruit and retain new employees.
"For the past two months, we have not brought on any EMTs or paramedics into the system," said Richard Pearson, the director of Education for Lancaster EMS.
Nowadays, Pearson says it's not easy to find people who want to be like him.
"I have been doing this for 30 years," Pearson told FOX43.
For him, it's not only a career; it's a lifelong passion.
"My dad did not understand. The day he did was when I could afford to move out of my parents house and buy a new car. He saw I could afford to get married. I have three kids. My job as a paramedic over the past 30 years has afforded me the ability to have that 'American life,'" said Pearson.
Now, though, many of Pearson's colleagues are ready to retire.
"Some of our most senior medics and EMTs have been doing this well over 20 years," he explained.
Lancaster EMS is also handling a higher call volume and other stressors.
"With the COVID-19 pandemic issues, a lot of people are going on to leave the field," explained Pearson.
The agency is incentivizing people to join. They say people can learn while they earn as a new EMT.
"The basic sciences: anatomy and physiology. The word that makes people cringe: mathematics. We have to have a grounding in mathematics. Other things: We learn the state statues, the laws that govern EMS," he stated.
New EMTs will also learn how to operate the stretcher, how to drive an emergency vehicle safely, how to used advanced life support equipment, and much more.
"Ultimately, treating the patients. From medical care to traumatic injuries to treating newborn babies to assisting people with end of life decisions," he added.
New EMTs will start at $13 an hour. After completing the EMS certification and agreeing to an 18-month commitment to Lancaster EMS, pay is increased to $15 an hour. Pearson says anyone 18 years or older with good driving and criminal records as well as an interest in helping others is encouraged to apply.
People can read more about the EMT academy here.