Texas emergency responders still fighting EMT shortage

Texas emergency responders still fighting EMT shortage
Published: Nov. 1, 2023 at 7:33 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Emergency response teams across the state are fighting EMT shortages after the COVID-19 pandemic led to job losses across the health industry nationwide.

UT Health East Texas is one of the primary responders to 911 calls in East Texas. Officials tell us that their EMT ranks are 91% full.

“Shortages like this, you don’t have units, you don’t have ambulances where you would normally have them, which again is going to impact communities,” said Michael Lawyer, the Director of UT Health’s Air 1, their helicopter response team.

The CEO of UT Health East Texas EMS John Smith said that the system has seen many EMT’s become nurses and doctors over the past few years. They are putting on their own EMT schools and collaborating with Tyler Junior College’s paramedic school as well.

UT EMTs were also present at today’s Pre-Health High School Conference at UT Tyler, speaking to high school students about job opportunities in the field.

“With us bringing the ambulance and aircraft out here it shows them the opportunities they have,” said Lawyer. “As an EMT, a paramedic or a flight nurse like we have with us today, the chances that they have out there are endless.”

The Texas legislature in recent years has also allocated funds for the Texas Department of State Health Services Emergency Medical Services Scholarship Program. The Department said the program has brought 6,000 new EMTs into the field since 2020, bringing the statewide total to 74,357.