Richland County EMT Shortage | VideoChris Williams | 8/16/2012
"A lot more calls than when I first started, I mean there would be a call here and there, but now it`s substantially more," said EMT Bonny Stevens.
And the calls won`t be slowing down anytime soon.
"Call volume is raised about 40 percent this year alone. Are vehicle crashes have gone up 42 percent this year alone," said EMS Director Josh King.
Richland County has 50 EMTs, but they are spread pretty thin.
"We cover almost all of Richland County. Culberson covers some of the northern parts of Richland county, but we go into North Dakota. We go a little less than half way to Williston," King said.
They are doing the best they can to keep up, but with a limited number of EMTs and a huge coverage zone, sometimes people have to wait.
"Our response time for the farthest area is about an hour and a half," added King.
All 50 EMTs are volunteers, which means they have to handle two jobs.
"We were pulling these people out of their jobs about once every three days when I got here. Now we`re pulling them out about two to three times a day," King added.
One business owner in town with an employee who is also an EMT says he is glad to help out.
"It`s a way, it`s not much, but it`s a way for our company to help meet that need that demand. Even though I`m not doing it personally, if I can allow an employee to do that then I`m happy to do it," said Sidney Red-E-Mix dispatcher Travis Peterson.
Peterson says it can be pretty busy when the EMT has to leave, but it`s nothing they can`t handle.
"For the most part we just do our part and make up for the time she`s gone."
As for the EMTs, they would like to have a few more around.
"More volunteers just always helps. Just people willing to help out the community," added Stevens.
With 711 calls coming in this year, more help is just what the doctor ordered.