By Jason Allen

DALLAS and FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A shortage of emergency medical technicians and paramedics to work on ambulances is pushing companies to provide new incentives to keep ambulances staffed.

Acadian Ambulance Services in Dallas said it will start covering training costs for new applicants, and pay them $11 an hour while they complete the eight-week class.

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The offer comes after Acadian and other services have had current employees working overtime, and pulled front of staff back onto the road to make sure patient transports stay on track.

A Texas Department of State Health Services presentation in October showed the number of trained personnel who had worked on an ambulance in 2021 had dropped by one-third since 2020, even as there were more people certified to do the work.

“We absolutely had to have a pay raise, and so we went ahead and did that and we’ve had great response from that, but it takes more than good pay to keep a good employee,” said Lauren Ramos with Acadian.

MedStar which handled 911 transports in Fort Worth said while paramedic shortages are a problem nationwide its overall staffing has never been better.

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It also increased pay by 12% this year to help get there, and adjusted its service model to use EMT’s to staff more ambulances, to account for a shortage of paramedics.

The Fort Worth fire department started a recruiting class Monday with 34 new recruits, and said it was also navigating labor issues well.

Fire departments are one of the career opportunities though that trained EMT’s and paramedics can often look to for advancement, leaving transport companies looking to find new people to bring in. Rather than lament that turn, recruiters are using it as a selling point now.

“You start somewhere,” said Ross Glauben, a recruiter with Acadian. “There are doctors who have ridden ambulance early in their career to get into medical school.”

Acadian is trying to get applicants for its next Dallas class by December 23.

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Classes are expected to continue each quarter though with one company official saying with the current situation, they wanted to hire as many people as they can.