Nature Coast EMS staffing situation 'beyond critical'

Starting paramedic pay for paramedics is just below $13 per hour, well below other Tampa-area agencies


By Greg Friese

LECANTO, Fla. — In the last week, 10 paramedics and EMTs resigned from the Nature Coast EMS, a Florida Gulf Coast department. A total of 22 paramedics and EMTs have resigned since July 1, putting the working force down 25%.  

Nature Coast EMS Battalion Chief Dan Brady told WFLA the staffing situation is beyond critical.  

“Every able person with a paramedic or EMT license is getting on an ambulance whenever needed,” Brady said. “There’s not been a major delay, there definitely has been a delay. You couldn’t say there wasn’t. The more people that leave, the higher risk we are for significant delays.” 

Nature Coast EMS has the lowest starting pay of any EMS provider in the Tampa Bay area. Paramedic starting pay is just below $13 an hour. Nearby, Hernando County starts paramedics at $19.96 an hour. Ocala paramedics start at $20.83. Sunstar EMS paramedics in Pinellas County start at $22.04 per hour. 

The pay, combined with the stress of increased COVID calls, has employees looking elsewhere. 

“Almost everything is COVID. I was on a truck earlier today, every single call was COVID,” Brady said. “At a certain point, it just gets like tiring and then you start to think, ‘What am I taking home to my family? What am I exposing myself to?’ And that’s what these people are thinking. “ 

The Coast Emergency Medical Foundation, Inc. Board of Directors is scheduled for a special meeting on Sept. 8, 2021, to take action on the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, and to request an additional subsidy from the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners.

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