NewsGreat Falls News


GFES adapts to paramedic shortage

Katelyn Throckmorton
Posted at 7:47 AM, Sep 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-28 09:54:05-04

Great Falls Emergency Services has made an amendment with the city to make their jobs easier and more efficient.

GFES used to only be allowed to run Advance Life Support (ALS) units in town. The amendment was made about 15 years ago and now, they're allowed to use Basic Life Support (BLS) on calls that don't require paramedics. It will open up other units allowing for more efficient service.

"The reality is, is that not every 911 call needs a paramedic," GFES general manager Justin Grohs said. "It used to be every call required a paramedic versus two EMT's."

It will also let paramedics standby for a potential call they may be required on.

"Many of the 911 calls, especially now in our system, can be well managed by a crew of emergency medical technicians. There's increasing number of substance abuse calls, things like that and EMT's are trained for that. It's a good example of using the right resources, correct resourcing, not sending a paramedic to every single 911 call in the city. It also allows us to have more transporting units in the system."

There is a lack of paramedics nationally and that's the case locally as well. The amendment will make their lives easier and they're already seeing differences.

"We've had a few days where we've run that BLS 911 on one truck and it has really been excellent," said EMT Katelyn Throckmorton. "Our paramedics are quite overworked right now. They're all working a lot of hours. We have a major nationwide paramedic shortage. Getting them off of those calls that maybe don't require their level of skill is really beneficial for them."

She continued, "And I think as an EMT, it's really beneficial for us as well because we, you know, can use the skills that we were trained to use. We feel comfortable with the EMTs taking those calls and being able to give the best care to patients."