OLATHE, Kan. — Johnson County Med-Act will scale back some of its operations due to staffing shortages.
Typically Med-Act operates 20 ambulances throughout Johnson County. Of those, 17 ambulances are staffed 24 hours a day and three impact ambulances are staffed eight hours a day during peak demand times.
Starting Sept. 4, employees working in those impact ambulances will be reassigned to assist with 24-hour ambulance operations to provide additional support until staffing levels normalize.
Med-Act has roughly an 11% vacancy rate and the department is looking to fill approximately 14 Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and paramedic roles.
All 24-hour ambulances will remain in service during the transition. Paul Davis, Director of Johnson County Emergency Medical Services, said the adjustment is centered around ensuring timely responses to the community’s needs.
“Knowing that they’re not 24-hour trucks, they’re not normally scheduled for the weekend, we took an opportunity within our all-hazards plan to reassign those folks temporarily,” Davis said.
The department plans to operate under this plan for 120 days or until additional staff are hired. Johnson County Med-Act responds to about 50,000 calls each year and transports nearly 36,000 patients annually. Med-Act also provides special operations support to various law enforcement and fire departments throughout Johnson County.
Davis said while it’s difficult to pinpoint what is causing staffing shortages, the pandemic has put a major strain on many healthcare professionals.
“That has put a tax on healthcare workers in all of our healthcare professions. Nurses are tired. Physicians are tired. Risk support techs are tired. EMTs and paramedics are tired,” Davis said. “Really what I think is happening is we are seeing an exodus of those who are eligible to retire and we don’t have the ability to backfill completely to support those numbers who are retiring.”
Davis said while emergency management agencies are struggling with staffing shortages nationwide, the county is working to create an education pipeline to fill Med-Act positions going forward.
Previously Med-Act has operated as a paramedic-only ambulance service. As of January, the department has begun hiring EMTs to fill in staffing needs.
“What we believe this will do is allow us to maintain a sustainable, advanced life support ambulance service and also allow those EMTs to move to a paramedic role through education,” Davis said.
Med-Act is actively recruiting to fill EMT and paramedic positions. Interested applicants can find more information on the county website.