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Shortage of EMTs, paramedics hitting El Paso hard

EL PASO, Texas -- The shortage in emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics is a national issue, but the president of Life Ambulance says El Paso is one of the places being hit the hardest.

Rachel Harracksingh, who heads the private company that provides ambulance services, believes there are a few key reasons for the shortage - the impact of Covid-19 and the lack of classes they have been able to have, as well as the demand from migrant and refugee camps for qualified staff.

Harracksingh told ABC-7 that those jobs are able to pay anywhere from $10 to $25 more an hour.

"It definitely impacts us, they've been recruiting from the market," Harracksingh said. "A lot of the paramedics that we have that are servicing our community right now are being taken by the migrant camps and you can't compete with it, you just can't."

According to Harracksingh, Life Ambulance is down about 25 EMTs and paramedics and she said other private companies - as well as El Paso city and county - are seeing significant shortages right now too. It is impacting the ability to serve the community, she added.

Harracksingh sent a letter to State Sen. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) earlier this month, as well as some other government officials, outlining these issues and asking for help.

As of Tuesday, she said she had not heard back from the senator. But Blanco told ABC-7 he had received the letter and was assessing the situation.

"Clearly the federal contractors are allowing for higher wages and we're looking into any kind flexibility available to provide reimbursement for workers wages in our region to meet those demands," Blanco explained.

Blanco indicated he's discussed getting support by way of emergency federal funding from the American Rescue Plan.

Rachel Phillips

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