EMT Shortage Hits Brazos Valley

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The Brazos County Volunteer Fire Department is often the first response team dispatched to medical 911 calls outside of the city limits. But these days, they are having a hard time making it to all the calls.

"We run probably around 15 to 25 medical calls in precinct four a month and we may miss two or three of them," said Chief Joe Ondrasek, Brazos County Volunteer Fire Department Pct 4.

Which means one of the cities has to respond and that usually takes longer. Ondrasek says there's a shortage of paid EMTs across the nation. As difficult as it is to attract paid EMTs, it's even more challenging to recruit volunteers.

"The problem is time, the time required to go to training, the time required to go on calls and things like that, it's just so demanding," said Ondrasek.

John Rinard supervises EMT training for TEEX. He says for volunteers that aren't getting paid, the hours in training alone can be overwhelming.

"Minimum hours required by the state for EMT are 120 hours. We exceed those hours in our program by 50 percent," said John Rinard, program supervisor, TEEX.

To combat dwindling volunteer numbers, Ondrasek says they are constantly exploring incentives they can offer to attract and retain volunteers.

"You're coming to us and you have the time to commit we'll pay for all your training, we'll send you wherever it goes and pay for your gas," said Ondrasek.

He says those incentives will help, but unless state and national legislators assist by offering perks like tax breaks, and until more people step up and volunteer, EMS ranks in Brazos County won't be able to keep up with the demand.

For more information on volunteering with Brazos County Pct 4 visit www.precinct4.com or call Chief Ondrasek at 979-820-1038.