GREAT FALLS — While there are workforce shortages throughout the country, first responding agencies have been dealing with their own set of unique challenges.
Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) as well as paramedics are no strangers to this shortage.
When speaking with Great Falls Emergency Services to find out how they've been impacted, General Manager Justin Grohs stated, "That's where a lot of communities around the U.S. are seeing a shortage as far as a tough time filling those positions on their service."
A study done by the American Ambulance Association showed that 39% of part time EMT and 55% of part time paramedic positions went unfilled. The challenge for Great Falls Emergency Services consists of a variety of different factors.
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Great Falls Emergency Services is works alongside agencies such as Great Falls Fire Rescue and works closely with the city when it comes to response times along with providing the necessary resources.
"We do work closely with the city and have had a productive relationship with them over the years," Grohs said. "In fact, one of the most exciting moves recently was the deployment of basic life support or EMT level ambulances within the city."
Grohs noted that the lack of a paramedic program in Great Falls has also presented challenges. He said college students would be hired at GFES through programs they were taught, but now, many have to go to Billings or Bozeman.
Great Falls Emergency Services has been advertising at a national level, which is something it has never done before.
Grohs said, "There would be 12 or so paramedics a year coming out of a local program, which just doesn't happen anymore, so it's certainly gotten much more challenging. It takes a lot of creativity and an all-hands-on deck. The staff here does a great job of recruiting EMTs and paramedics that they have come to know, referring them here to begin employment, so we just stick with it and work hard at keeping good folks here."
Grohs said despite the shortage, it is not impacting Great Falls to a major extent and that they are still able to ensure the safety of Great Falls and surrounding areas as effectively as possible.