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National shortage of paramedics being felt in Louisiana

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BATON ROUGE- A national shortage of paramedics across the nation is currently being felt across our region.

Both Acadian Ambulance and Baton Rouge EMS said they are working overtime to fulfill the calls that come in.

Baton Rouge EMS said last month medics responded to 5,200 calls. That's more than 500 more than one year ago. Responding to calls is tough as both companies try to fill nearly three dozen open positions.

"We're feeling the pinch as a company just like our surrounding agencies are as well, because of the lack of paramedics," Justin Cox with Acadian Ambulance said.

Currently, Acadian Ambulance says it has 30 openings for paramedics right now. They are offering up to a $15,000 signing bonus for new hires. The push to get workers hired is so serious in part, because of an increase in calls post-flood. Acadian Ambulance said it has seen a lot of folks hurting themselves using equipment to repair their flood-damaged homes, along with other trauma calls.

"Strokes, heart attacks, likely from the stress that has been induced from the flood," Cox said.

From Acadian Ambulance to Baton Rouge EMS, the need is the same. Right now, there are multiple openings for paramedics.

"We do have a shortage," Mike Chustz with Baton Rouge EMS said. "We're doing some local recruiting, in high schools, civic organizations, places like that."

Chustz said the turnover for paramedics is high, that's because the job is demanding.

"It's a very difficult job physically, mentally," Chustz said. "We deal with people when they're having a bad day, when bad things are happening. We're not dealing with them when they are in a good mood and able to have a nice conversation. That's just the way things are."

Both companies pay about $42,000 per year for starting paramedics. That salary increases with experience. But, it's not a job that anyone can do, as classes and qualifications must be met.

"We're saving people's lives, so it's not like a course you just take," Cox said. "You're learning anatomy, physiology, the condition of the patient's body, etc."

If you are interested in becoming a medic, log on to the site, becomeamedic.com.

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