WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — There’s a shortage of EMS in Wake County and area programs are working to help.
What You Need No Know
On average, Wake County has eight to 10 ambulances out of service every day
Wake County EMS staff says they have surpassed 10,000 calls for service every month since May
To help offset the shortage, staff suggest calling your primary care physician or seeking an urgent care facility in a non-emergency situation
Wake Technical Community College is helping get some of its students out on the roads through its Emergency Medical Sciences program. This is its largest year ever with 68 students enrolled.
Kylie Hopkins is a Wake County EMT and training to become a paramedic through Wake Tech’s program. She eventually wants to be a physician that provides oncological care to patients.
“My mom has cancer and just seeing the care that the doctors and nurses at Duke have given her has been so inspiring,” Hopkins said. “I honestly think half the battle is having good physicians and people that are taking care of you because that just gives you more hope and strength.”
A paramedic certification would allow her to provide advance life support to patients. She says she is looking forward to giving back to the community she grew up in.
“There are a lot of disenfranchised people even in Wake County, which is a big county,” Hopkins said. “They need help wherever they can get it.”
Hopkins got involved in the program through WakeWorks. The program allows the college to pair directly with Wake County EMS. It gives students an opportunity to learn in the classroom and work directly in the field.
“The biggest thing is, WakeWorks pays for these students’ education,” said Constance Best, one of the EMS instructors at Wake Tech. “They pay for their uniforms, they pay for up to $1,000 in tuition every semester, they pay for all of their text books. WakeWorks…the funding source we have from there is tremendous and offers students an opportunity that they more than likely wouldn’t have gotten.”
Assistant Chief of Wake County EMS Brian Brooks says over the past few months, about eight to 10 ambulances are out of service daily because of staff shortages.
“We have what we consider virtual vacancies, which are employees that are off for reasons such as long-term injuries, FMLA, workers comp, parental leave, quarantine and extended military leave. These employees are on the roster but unable to work and cannot be replaced with a new hire, which creates an open slot on the daily roster,” Brooks said.
Wake County surpassed 10,000 calls for the first time in May and has continued to break the previous months records through August.
“Be patient if you call with a non-emergency, low acuity complaint — we will get there, but you may have to wait,” Brooks said.
Brooks suggests utilizing your primary care physician and urgent care for non-emergency complaints.