SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – After nearly 10 years, Kacie Mallon is walking away from her career as an advanced emergency medical technician.
“As much as it pains me to leave my co-workers and the civilians, I have to do what’s best for me,” she said.
Mallon says there have been issues with turnover within EMS due to low wages and limited room for promotion. However, she says the pandemic now exasperating the situation.
“We feel exhausted. We feel ashamed. We feel helpless because we are moving more quickly,” Mallon said.
Workers feeling the stress of the call surge coming into Sedgwick County EMS with fewer resources to respond.
“Almost every single day, at least on my shifts, we have reached what we call ‘status.’ Which means that there are three or less ambulances available to respond within the entire county,” Mallon said.
Adding on extra pressure to an already tough job.
“We’re at the point where we either move quickly and take these patients half-treated to the hospital or have other people just sit and wait,” she said.
The fatigue of the job partnered with low wages causing an increase in turnover.
“There’s national numbers that look well into the 28-percentiles of people leaving. We’re of course watching very carefully our staffing. I think that we’re seeing what the rest of the country sees,” said Tom Stolz, Sedgwick County Manager.
On top of the turnover, Stolz says the EMS department is consistently seeing several employees having to quarantine and isolate due to COVID-19.
While Mallon’s time with Sedgwick County EMS is over,sShe is hoping things will improve for the department.
“If we do not find a way to address this issue and to improve our staffing and to improve our pay, we’re going to see people lose their lives because there’s nobody there to help them.”