NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Ever since COVID-19 hit, Acadian Ambulance Service says there’s been a nationwide EMT shortage, including in Tennessee. 

One major concern is what this could mean to emergency response times.  

“When we can’t put enough units on the road, we can’t get to calls in a timely manner, it ultimately will put a delay on something that could potentially be life-changing for a patient,” said Taylor Reine, Operations Manager at Acadian Ambulance Service in Tennessee. 

Sometimes crews are able to use ambulances from surrounding areas, however, that can be especially problematic in certain locations. 

“In a rural area, going from one county to another could mean a 45 minute to an hour response, whereas opposed to having somebody in that county close to where the call is, it could be 15-20 minutes,” Reine said.

Acadian is now working to become part of the solution by offering some major incentives for anyone willing to go through their EMT training.  

“Tuition is going to be paid for upfront, we’re going to pay them to actually come to class, so their only real job at the time is to make sure they pass class. So they don’t have to think about anything else, they come to work, they attend class, and then we pay for everything from there,” said Tim DeMaya, Operations Coordinator at Acadian Ambulance Service of Tennessee.

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Classes run as little as seven to 12 weeks and pay for paramedics just starting out can be around $40,000 a year. Aside from the income, those in the industry say it’s one of the most meaningful careers out there.  

“Most people who get introduced to EMS, they fall in love with it,” Reine said. “They enjoy what they do, they like being public servants, they like helping people.” 

DeMaya has been in the profession for more than 34 years. He encourages anyone who likes helping people to look into becoming an EMT.  

“It’s been extremely fulfilling,” DeMaya said. “I’ve been in the industry for a very long time. Just seeing people get better or helping people along the way to where they’re going to be able to survive, just makes your life fulfilling.” 

The next round of trainings begin in May. For more information, click here