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Michigan emergency medical services groups need roughly 1,000 new workers

State EMS agencies are asking for at least $20 million to cover the costs of recruiting and training at least 1,000 much-needed new paramedics and EMTs.

MICHIGAN, USA — The state of Michigan has a shortage of roughly 1,000 paramedics and emergency medical technicians, or EMTs, and emergency medical service groups are calling on the state legislature to help address the shortage. 

The Michigan Association of Ambulance Services, the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs and the Michigan EMS Practitioners Association are asking for at least $20 million to cover the costs of recruiting and training at least 1,000 much-needed new paramedics and EMTs.

The 2022 fiscal year state budget includes $12.9 million in Medicaid reimbursement which means increased wage for EMTs, but these state groups say more needs to be done to retain and recruit new healthcare workers. 

RELATED: State funding is needed to end first responder staffing shortage, EMS workers say

Life EMS President Mark Meijer says he could see the drop-off in staffing coming, with less people enrolling in their education programs at the start of the pandemic. 

"As we got into the pandemic, obviously volume dropped for a while," he says. "With the slowdown of some training centers during COVID, we were going to be in a tough spot from a staffing perspective."  

He says $20 million in COVID relief funds from the state can help his and other emergency medical services groups expand their educational programs. 

"Where these dollars could be critical is allowing us to provide incentives to get people into training programs," Meijer says. 

There's one key area where he hopes to grow their EMT and paramedic pool. 

"Over the years, what's happened is a lot of training programs have gone away in rural areas," Meijer says. "We have got to train people where they live and work so having the resources and state dollars to put a program on in those rural communities that really need it." 

Life EMS covers the training for incoming EMTs, and he hopes it's a job people consider to keep up the quality of care for those in an emergency. 

"If you have a passion for serving people in caring and respectful way, this is great work," Meijer says. "You can go through the training with Life EMS at no cost that gives you thousands of dollars of education for free." 

Life EMS has a training program coming up soon in Fremont, and AMR also operates in West Michigan.

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