Dougherty County hit by paramedic shortage - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty County hit by paramedic shortage

May 12, 2008

Dougherty County -- Ramsey Brown has worked as a paramedic for a little more than 10 years. "I've been raised around it, and it's an interesting job. I love helping people," said Brown.

But he is also going to school during his time off. "I plan on going to a nursing program. I am doing my core for it now, and I do plan on staying in EMS," said Brown.

"I just love the excitement. You don't know what you are going to until you get there. You have to think right on the spot, just you and your partner. It's a lot of excitement in it that you usually don't see on the emergency rooms or the floors," said Brown.

But this isn't the case for many in his line of work. "We are feeling the effects of a problem that is statewide if not national and that is a critical shortage of paramedics, said Dougherty EMS Director, Bobby Tripp.

"Some of them are being certified as registered nurses and leaving to go work for hospitals for more money."

And the ones leaving are often some of the most experienced. "It's becoming harder and harder to recruit people to take the place of these people because only one of every three people who enter the EMT program in Georgia receive their license," said Tripp.

"In order for us to compete with the private industries and hospitals, I don't see any other way than to pay comparably to what they would get paid at the hospitals and private industries."

Until then they will just have to rely on employees like Ramsey Brown who continue to work because its their passion.

Despite the shortage, Dougherty County Emergency Medical Services has some of the best response times in the state. The national average is eight minutes. Dougherty County's average is seven minutes.

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