(WACO, Texas) – Their role in saving lives is critical, and there is a need for more of them in Texas.
Paramedics and emergency medical technicians are some of the first medical personnel that people encounter when they need to be transported to a hospital or receive lifesaving procedures.
“Due to the nationwide shortage of emergency medical service professionals, emergency medical technicians and paramedics are in high demand,” said Ronnie Pitts, statewide chair of Texas State Technical College’s Emergency Medical Services program. “This contributes to the program’s extremely high job placements.”
Pitts said the pandemic has also driven up the demand for more workers.
“Our communities rely and depend on receiving the highest quality care during times of need,” he said.
Limestone Medical Center’s Emergency Medical Services in Groesbeck has three ambulances servicing its hospital district and out-of-county calls as needed through mutual aid agreements.
“We are at staff level right now,” said Shelton Chapman, the medical center’s EMS director. “We could use more part-timers. In the EMS industry, there is not enough. There is a paramedic shortage.”
Chapman said a good way to recruit local workers is to look to high schools.
“That would help us if we had students coming out of high school that were emergency medical technician-trained,” Chapman said. “Not everyone is going to be a lawyer. There is a deficit in EMS and paramedics produced in Central Texas. We can use more training in this area.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website, emergency medical technicians and paramedics in Texas make a yearly median salary of more than $35,000. Employment can be found throughout Texas, with the largest number of workers concentrated in the Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio areas.
The number of emergency medical technicians and paramedics is projected to rise nationally to more than 282,000 by 2029, according to the Labor Department.
TSTC offers the Emergency Medical Services program at the Abilene, Brownwood and Harlingen campuses. The program also offers three certificates of completion, as well as an Associate of Applied Science degree pathway for certified paramedics. The program can award up to 41 semester credit hours toward this degree by using applicants’ Texas Department of State Health Services or NREMT paramedic certification.
Pitts said students from the Waco area have gone to TSTC’s Abilene and Brownwood campuses to study in the program.
“With the program being hybrid, it only requires students to be on campus one day a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” he said. “The program has multiple clinical affiliations, which gives students flexibility with scheduling their clinical and field rotations.”
For more information, go to tstc.edu.