Low pay, high overtime take toll on Tenn. medics

A staffing shortage is resulting in long response times, and EMS providers are paid $6 per hour less than those in surrounding areas

COFFEE COUNTY, Tenn. — A staff shortage, attributed to low wages, is exacting a physical toll on paramedics in Coffee County, Tenn.

Paramedics are tired, paid $11.78 per hour – $6 less than paramedics in surrounding counties, and injured, News Channel 5 reports

Although one paramedic reported 160 to 180 hours of overtime on recent paychecks, the EMTs and paramedics that spoke to News Channel 5 reported having to work a second job to survive.

The service is also having difficultly responding to calls in a timely manner. Some patients are waiting 25 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

The county EMS director, Michael Bonner, explains that the service has nine open positions and some days can only put three ambulances on the road. 

"How do you cover the entire county with just three ambulances? Well, we've been lucky so far,” Bonner said.

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