Lincoln Fire & Rescue is seeing shortage of paramedics

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) Lincoln Fire and Rescue is looking to hire paramedics, ideally people who already have experience as a paramedic or a firefighter.

Currently there is a shortage in the department. Fire Chief Michael Despain says he needs to fill 20 positions. The shortage is attributed to people retiring and the stress of the job.

"Life on an ambulance is tougher, they typically run more calls on a shift than the engine or truck," Chief Despain said.

In Lincoln there are 14 fire stations, each one has an engine, but there are only 6 ambulances. "Even if it's not in your district, you are running calls all over," Despain said.

Paramedic Brady Papik says you have to love what you do. "It is a very rewarding job, that's what drives all of us are all those good calls we go on. We get out and make a difference to people's lives and give a positive outcome, whatever that may be."

LFR asks paramedics to commit to 6 years. "At the end, because of burnout, they will drop their status as a medic," Despain said.

Despain said this problem is not unique to Lincoln. "The average tenure of a medic is 7 years, we ask for 6," Despain said. He also notes some people stick it out and stay for 20 years, but others choose not to.

Despite the shortage, LFR wants the community to know they are getting the best service when they show up. "We struggle with recruitment on the back end, but that's never going to impact the front it, we will figure out a way to solve that." he said.

Despain encourages people interested in being a paramedic to apply or schedule a ride along. The department is looking for licensed paramedics, with good track records and a clean background.

LFR plans to hire 7 people starting the training academy in February, but at the same time 8 paramedics are retiring.

"This recruitment is getting ready for the next process. While this academy is barely starting we'll already stake recruitment applications for the next one," Despain said.