Ambulance services in southern Illinois continue to be understaffed

Ambulance services in southern Illinois are suffering from a shortage of employees.
Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 5:09 PM CDT
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CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) -It’s an issue that happening Nationwide and here locally in southern Illinois.

Ambulance services are suffering from a shortage of employees. That could mean longer wait times for certain calls.

“It makes it tough, our staff works a lot of hours,” said Kenton Schafer, Jackson County Ambulance Service director.

Schafer says they are currently without four full-time staffers and having a hard time finding those qualified for the work.

“I think part of it is low pay, part of it is the hours you have to work, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. You get night shift, work 24 hour shifts, work on holidays, so that’s very attractive I think,” said Schafer.

He says they are not having an issue with 911 response but transporting patients.

“We haven’t luckily yet experienced any kind of shortage as far as our 911 response. We have experienced a shortage in the ability for us to transfer patients from the hospitals. So you know we unfortunately don’t have enough staff too back fill so we have to limit the number of ambulances that we send out on transfers,” said Schafer.

Jackson County is more than 690 square miles, and the ambulance services are responsible for all of it.

Union county is also seeing a shortage of ambulance service employees.

“We have probably been dealing with this well over 2 years. The pandemic was tough for everybody, it was for us as well,” said Grant Capel, Union County Ambulance director.

Union County is currently down 2 full time staff members. But Capel says they have an in house training to try and help try and retain employees.

“We have an instructor on our staff and he is teaching at least 2 classes per year and that has helped us keep with people coming or going or people wanting to get into this type of work,” said Capel.

But regardless of the shortage of employees, Capel says they are still serving their county to the best of their ability.

“We have to continue to be able to balance the fact that we have people on duty or if we have to call somebody in to make sure we have coverage for all of our citizens,” said Capel.

Capel says if you have any interest in working for the Union County Ambulance Service, to reach out to him to learn more.

And Schafer says they are looking to fulfill those full time positions as well as part time positions.

“If you know anybody that wants a fulfilling career, I would check into ems, it’s pretty rewarding,” says Schafer.

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