TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on first responders in West Alabama. NorthStar EMS in Tuscaloosa is experiencing a staff shortage and needs more paramedics.
Edgar Calloway is the NorthStar EMS operations director, he says it takes longer for his medical ambulance crews to respond and transport COVID patients to the hospital.
“We are short staffed because we require twice the people to do what we do now than what we did when the outbreak started. Much of that is because the hospitals are full and it takes much longer to off load a patient at the hospital,” said Calloway.
Calloway says his staff are stressed and overburdened so he is offering incentives like giving workers overtime to make sure more paramedics are on duty.
“You have to pay overtime and bonus structures and incentive shifts to get people to fill the trucks that need to be on the road to transport the 911 callers and the sick patients,” Calloway said.
NorthStar EMS and Calloway is urging the communities of Northport and Tuscaloosa to wear a mask and get vaccinated to help protect his paramedics because they work so close to COVID patients.