Sirens no longer silenced: Diamond Springs ambulance back on the road after staffing shortage shut it down for months
DIAMOND SPRINGS -- Nationwide staffing shortages continue for first responders, a phenomenon that shut down an ambulance unit in El Dorado County in July 2022. Its absence has been felt by other first responders picking up the extra calls and community members who have had to wait longer for emergency response.
The unit is back on the road and the newly hired paramedics that made it possible were honored in a badge pinning ceremony and ribbon cutting of Medic 49 Saturday morning.
"Today is all about dedication to service and love of our county and its communities," said El Dorado County Supervisor Wendy Thomas at the ceremony.
The Diamond Springs ambulance unit is now fully staffed with six paramedics.
"There's a shortage nationwide of firefighters, particularly firefighter paramedics," said Chief Tim Cordero of the El Dorado County Fire Protection District.
Cordero said that is what took Medic 49 off the road for the first time since it opened in the 1970s. The funding for it was always there, but the staffing wasn't.
"There's only eight ambulances that service the west slope of El Dorado County and when we lost that unit, it was the second busiest unit in the system. It had a tremendous impact on the rest of the units in the county," said Cordero.
That's why Saturday was a day for celebration.
Medic 49's nearly eight-month absence was felt by both the community and the other paramedics struggling to pick up the call volume.
"That resulted in some delays and longer response times," said Cordero.
Cordero says hiring amid a nationwide staffing shortage took some creativity, like utilizing social media to recruit.
"We had to create a position that we thought would be very attractive in offering competitive salaries and benefit packages, really pushing that we are looking for people that want to be part of our team," he said.
Paramedics Fallon Braithwaite, Brian Duffy, Taylor Ferguson, Bradley Gates, Aaron Fields, and Kyle Lopez received their badges and were sworn in by Chief Cordero at Saturday's ceremony.
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