The Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) shortage is sweeping across the country and Trousdale County is offering EMT classes to help the situation in rural Middle Tennessee.
The Basic EMT class will start August 14, and will meet on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night from 6 till 9 at the Hartsville Trousdale Fire Department.
Former Macon County EMS Director Randall Kirby stated, “We started noticing the shortage about 4 years ago.”
“When I left here in 2016, I went to work for the State of Tennessee Division of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The State EMS establishes the regulations that Emergency Medical Services work under in Tennessee. I worked there for six years and at that time the state was losing approximately 800 licensed emergency medical personnel each year. This is just people that weren’t renewing their license.
“We then noticed that EMS workers were leaving their EMS positions and going to work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and private industry like Amazon. To better understand what’s going on we did a work force study to see why people were leaving. That’s when I was tasked to research three things, (1) leadership, (2) time schedules and (3) was to look at pay scales. Many counties across the state have raised their pay and some counties are looking at their work schedules. Macon County and Trousdale County are not exempt, like many other emergency services across the country, both Macon and Trousdale are having staffing problem issues.
“Counties are having to pay a tremendous amount of overtime just to keep shifts covered.
In talking with Mayor Chambers at the time, he wanted to get people and send them to school in Gallatin. The problem with that is once they start going there and get exposed to the private services, even if you put them under contract and pay for them to go to school, they are going to be people who are going to say hey you come to work for us and we’ll pay you ten more dollars an hour than the county pays you, and we’ll buy out your contract. So, how do you compete with that?
“What I suggested for Mayor Chambers to do, was to have classes here and do their clinicals here that way they stay here. Mayor Chambers said he knew Matt Beaty was an instructor, and he assumed that I was I too, so why can’t we just do it here. I knew another guy, Steve Henderson, who is also an instructor, so I called him.
“We then started a class, and in that first class we had six students, two from Trousdale County and four from Macon County. That was last fall, 2022, and all six of them completed the class.
“We were happy with that and working with Mayor McCall and Mayor Jones we have decided to do this again. The new goal is to have one a year. You are going to have people that are going to leave, like now, Nashville Metro is adding 12 ambulances and that is at least 36 people. Guess where they are going to get them, they will rob the surrounding counties. That’s the way it goes. The rural services just can’t compete with the big metropolitan areas on pay and retirement. The rural counties are going to have to find ways to continue searching for new employees. I told them they need to recruit kids earlier. There is an old saying in EMS, you’ve got to be nice to the kids because they grow up to be your partner.
“This will be our second class, with an approximate cost of $1,200 per student, which is about what a semester costs at college. Work force development has said they would pay for people to go to this if they qualified. Currently the educational program is under the Continuing Education Department of Vol State Community College. We’re hoping to get it switched to the credit side which would then free them up to get either Hope Scholarship or Tennessee Connect funds to pay for it.
“We need EMT’s,” said Randall. If anyone would like to take this course or want more details, they need to call me at 615-888-6657.
The current teachers will be Randall Kirby, Matt Beaty, Steve Henderson. “Between us three we have about 90 years of experience,” added Kirby.