Report: D.C. Facing Critical Paramedic Shortage

Paramedics are reportedly leaving D.C. Fire and EMS at such a high rate that the department is facing a critical shortage.

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WTTG-TV has reported that on many days, the department is unable to fill all of its 14 paramedic-staffed ambulances that are supposed to be in service around the clock.

While EMTs account for a majority of the department's EMS responders, it is 100 paramedics short of filling all of its slots.

The city spent $7,000 in bonuses to recruit paramedics a few years ago, but many of them have since left for neighboring jurisdictions, firefighters union officials told the news station.

"There aren't enough paramedics in the system," Union President Ed Smith said. "We need an increase in units."

Due to the shortage, the department has reportedly been forced to pull firefighters cross-trained as paramedics off of their engine companies to fill the spots on ambulances.

Smith says that engine companies are being taken out of service in order to run medical calls.

"Hopefully there are no fires during the same time," he said.

The news station also reported that the department is being forced to have some paramedics who have already worked a 24-hour shift, work additional hours.

Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe told the news station that the city doesn't have a paramedic shortage.