Addressing the EMS Shortage in Texas

Texas EMS agencies are facing a workforce crisis. The pandemic has exacerbated an already critical health care workforce shortage related to EMS professionals. In particular, rural EMS agencies are facing the greatest workforce challenges.

EMS professionals are leaving the field at a higher rate than ever due to burnout, the risk of Covid-19 exposure and new career opportunities outside of traditional EMS that are able to offer higher salaries and other factors. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) recently released data indicating that only 27 percent of licensed Texas EMS professionals submitted a patient care report during the first eight months of 2021. Over 70 percent of eligible Texas EMS professionals did not work on an ambulance during the first eight months of 2021. To make a bad situation worse, Texas EMS agencies are not finding enough new EMS personnel to fill the vacancies.

The Texas Legislature’s Response: EMS Education & Recruitment Initiative

The Texas Legislature passed a $21.7 million EMS education and recruitment initiative as part of its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) package on October 19, 2021.

Click here to view the $21.7 million plan that TEMSA presented to the Texas Legislature.

The ARPA package, SB 8, was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott. A special thank you goes out to Chairwoman Jane Nelson of the Senate Committee on Finance and Chairman Greg Bonnen, MD of the House Committee on Appropriations for recognizing the EMS workforce crisis.

DSHS will now determine the parameters of the EMS education and recruitment program.

The idea of creating an EMS education and recruitment program was first identified by a group of TEMSA members at EMS EVOLUTION 2021 in August. They pointed to a similar initiative in Pennsylvania, which resulted in an increase of EMS professionals in the state.

TEMSA’s education and recruitment concept includes:

  • Funding for a campaign to educate the Texas public about EMS careers.
  • Funding to support IT infrastructure to direct candidates to education programs and employment opportunities.
  • Funding to incentivize EMS education programs in rural and underserved areas.
  • Funding for tuition reimbursement for EMS professionals who become certified and work in EMS.
  • Funding within each regional advisory council (RAC) for an EMS workforce development position to promote and recruit EMS professionals.
  • Distancing learning programs for EMS professionals.

“The Texas Legislature recognized the dramatic workforce shortage that many Texas EMS agencies are facing, and they responded by creating an EMS education and recruitment initiative that will lead to an increase in EMS professionals across the state,” Brent Smith, TEMSA’s president, said. “Texas’ EMS education and recruitment program will serve as a model for other states to follow to address EMS workforce shortages in their own states.”