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Are we due a 'boom' in EMS?

Despite current oversupply of medics in Calif., demand is likely to pick back up

Editor's note: A new study reports that although more workers in some areas of healthcare will be needed in the next few years, paramedicine is experiencing a surplus.

EMS has gone through cycles of boom and bust in my area. When I started working in San Francisco in 1990, the demand for paramedics was huge. The city was hiring like mad and pulling staff away from surrounding county agencies.

New medics trained and filled the slots, although it took some time and created a "shortage." By 1993, the number of new medics outpaced the number of jobs, and we entered a glut phase when it was difficult to be hired.

When local fire departments established ALS First Response programs, the demand picked back up. Not surprisingly, the health of the overall economy also reflected the need for EMS professionals and coincided with the growth and reduction of the industry.

Despite this one report, it is likely that we'll see another boom period shortly. Personnel are retiring and departments are at the breaking point of their overtime budgets, not to mention the strain of forced overtime on the crews.

I've seen an increased number of agencies beginning to hire EMS providers in the past several months, and the trend looks positive.

The fact is healthcare will continue to be a growth industry for some time, as the American population ages and the system evolves. Anecdotally, many places in the country are experiencing shortages of EMS personnel now.

If you are in one of these areas, give a shout-out in the comments below. Some folks might be looking for positions and are able to relocate. This way, everyone wins!

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