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Staffing shortage, rapid growth presents challenges during Wake EMS effort to shorten response times

Wake County's rapid growth is slowing the response to medical emergencies, even after Wake EMS hired 100 new people and the county raised the pay for the EMTs and medics.
Posted 2023-05-26T21:22:01+00:00 - Updated 2023-05-26T21:22:01+00:00
Wake EMS response times increase as county grows

Going into summer of 2022, Wake EMS had a shortage of 80 employees.

That's down to 30 right now. They've hired 100 new people after the county raised the pay for the EMTs and medics.

They say that hiring is helping improve response times.

Wake County's rapid growth is slowing the response to medical emergencies.

"We’ve seen a drastic increase in call volume over the last several years which is a direct impact on our response times," said Brian Brooks with Wake EMS.

Wake EMS answered 85,637 calls before the pandemic in 2019. They arrived, on average, in 8:35.

The number of calls increased to more than 91,000 last year. And response times slowed to just over 10 minutes.

Add another two minutes on top of that for non-emergency calls.

"We do have to triage calls at times," said Brooks. "We triage calls and we send the ambulances to the sickest, most injured patients because they’re the ones that are in need."

In Cary, the number of calls increased by about 400 since 2019. It took EMS crews an extra two minutes to respond.

This empty lot on Kildaire Farm Road in Cary will become home to a new regional EMS prototype station. Another is under construction in Garner.

These larger stations will service and supply ambulance crews in their communities.

Right now, they lose time coming into Raleigh for that.

"They’ll be in service more and be able to respond to more emergencies, so we feel like this regional station concept is going to add a lot of efficiencies into our system," said Wake EMS Deputy Chief Don Garner.

The county's proposed budget for the next year adds 20 new positions and three ambulances.

"Those ambulances and that additional personnel are going to help us respond to all the calls we’re seeing because of all the growth," Garner said.

Wake EMS leaders said the growth will not get in the way of saving lives.

"We’re here to answer the call and do what we it takes to keep our community safe," Brooks said.