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Burnout to blame for shortage of medics in Detroit

“Every year, our run volume goes up and every year, our manpower goes down,” one medic said about the downward spiral



By Bill Carey
FireRescue1/EMS1 Staff

DETROIT — Late last year, Detroit firefighters and EMS combined their roles into a single position to meet demand.

At the same time, the city was short 200 firefighters and 100 EMS workers, Fox 2 reported.

Austin Tederington’s family has worked for the city for over 100 years. His heart was in the job, but he told Fox 2 that mentally, he could not do it anymore. He left after 8 years.

“During my time, I saw runs for chest pain or shortness of breath that would be holding for 20 or 30 minutes before an ambulance would become available,” Tederington said.

Tederington said leaving EMS may be exasperating the issue, but it is also the product of a growing problem of burnout within the department. “Every year, our run volume goes up and every year, our manpower goes down,” he said.

Executive Fire Commissioner Charles Sims said the goal is to have 25 ambulances a day. “We’ve fallen a little short of that, but I do want to keep in mind that we do have our fire engines and fire companies that are responding that are EMT as well as paramedic trained,” Simms said.

Part of the problem is the downward spiral of fewer workers doing more work, adding to the stress. The other issue is the availability of better-paying and less stressful positions outside the city.

The department hopes the 45 incoming medics will help alleviate some of the pressure. “They will be infused into the department which will increase how many ambulances we have on the street every single day,” Simms said.