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Amherst EMTs making the most of staffing shortages

Outside of the Amherst County Life Saving Crew building on July 7, 2022. (Credit: Jacob Hunziker, WSET)
Outside of the Amherst County Life Saving Crew building on July 7, 2022. (Credit: Jacob Hunziker, WSET)
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The Amherst County Public Safety Department is feeling the pain happening across the country - not enough workers to fill their positions.

But even though they're down EMS workers, several EMTs said they're hanging in there just fine.

Their department has 18 employees in their EMS division. When fully staffed, that number would be 27.

Despite those 9 vacancies, Tracey Schult said the support for each other makes it easier.

"Not only is this our home, but the people we work with become like family to us," Shult explained. "You've built that relationship with that person that you work with that you can count on them for literally anything."

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Schult explained that a normal shift is 24 hours on, and then 48 hours off.

But lately, with the shortages, that can be 36 or even 48 hours on, and then only 24 hours off.

Despite that extra strain on workers, Deputy Director Jared Scott says their response times are still good.

"It's not affecting our response times, or the service we're providing," Scott said. "The strain has been on employees working more hours."

Andrew Taylor is another EMT and he says that strain is starting to get to him a little.

"Especially if you keep working that 36-to-48-hour shifts, back-to-back-to-back because eventually you just, you start to get tired," Taylor said. "You keep pressing on because the community needs you. That's the way I look at it."

Taylor stressed the importance of relaxing during the time off.

"You find your stress relievers," he said. "Whatever that is, whether it's spending time with loved ones or doing a hobby that you really enjoy to help relieve that just to keep you going."

For Schult, it's his family that is struggling.

"I think it's getting to my family more," she said. "When I leave the house in the morning, I get the, 'When are you coming home,' and I'm like, 'I don't know.' 'Maybe tomorrow night, maybe in two days.'"

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But regardless of the extra work, they both say their job is important and they're willing to make sacrifices for the community.

"This is the kind of job that just has to happen," Schult explained. "You can't not have a truck manned."

Taylor said being from here helps push him to keep going and help those in need.

"That makes me push harder," he said. "I don't care if you're from here or not. That makes me push harder because I consider you family..."

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Deputy Director Scott says they're working to fill the vacancies as quickly as possible to get some relief EMTs like Shult and Taylor who are continuing to work so hard for the community.

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