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Sink or swim: Flaws in the onboarding process contribute to the EMT shortage

“What we have is a shortage of people who are willing to work under horrible conditions for chump change and be unappreciated”

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In the 10-year anniversary episode of the Inside EMS podcast, Chris Cebollero and Kelly Grayson discuss the shortage of EMTs, the imperfections of the onboarding process, and the importance of having good leaders in demanding jobs.

Join Chris Cebollero and Kelly Grayson as they celebrate 10 years of the Inside EMS podcast by taking a hard look at the desperate search for more EMTs. With more EMS professionals nationally registered now than ever before, the duo dissects why those statistics don’t match up with the number of EMTs currently working.

Our hosts take a close look at EMS leaders and their impact on new EMTs. Plus, they cover specific ways that we can improve the onboarding process to better prepare EMS professionals, and how the sink or swim method is harming new EMTs.


  • The lack of preparation in onboarding new EMTs.
  • Is there really a shortage in EMS?
  • Why is it so important to pair new EMTs with good mentors?
  • The negative impact of hazing in EMS.
  • How to take care of yourself while maintaining a successful EMS career.


  • “What we have is a shortage of people who are willing to work under horrible conditions for chump change and be unappreciated.”
  • “We spend an inordinate amount of time recruiting adrenaline junkies and trying to teach them to be hand holders when we should be recruiting hand holders and teaching them how to function in a crisis.”
  • “We need to teach new EMTs to keep that soft chewy center and retain that compassion for as long as they possibly can.”

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The Inside EMS podcast is a regular expert discussion of hot topics, clinical issues, operational and leadership lessons for EMTs, paramedics and chiefs