Shortage of EMTs Plagues Stanislaus County

California’s public health situation has vastly improved, but it will take a long time to repair some of the damage caused by COVID-19.

Stanislaus County is still grappling with a shortage of emergency medical technicians as a result of the pandemic. The county’s largest EMT provider, American Medical Response in Modesto, told the Board of Supervisors that it saw a 50% drop in enrollment last year due to illness and education restrictions. That has resulted in staff vacancies and shorter ambulance response times.

There is “light at the end of the tunnel,” said AMT Modesto’s regional director, Cindy Woolston.

“We are starting to see the pipeline come back as restrictions are lifted.”

But it’s a slow process. The emergency medical services field has seen a decline in recruits nationwide.

California Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez (D-Chino), who worked in the emergency medical field for more than 30 years, told the Modesto Bee that low wages are a major contributor to the shortages.

“These people go to school to learn to save a life and come out working for almost minimum wage," he said.

The median annual salary for an EMT in California is $43,768, according to the Economic Research Institute.