Riverside County is facing a shortage of paramedics. Currently, there are more than 120 paramedic firefighter positions vacant in the county, equating to roughly a 40 percent vacancy rate. The shortfall has county leaders concerned.
“This problem really became serious during the dark days of Covid lockdowns when numerous essential course classes were canceled, followed by the “Great Resignation” of employees, plus others moving out of state,” Riverside County Board of Supervisors Chair Kevin Jeffries said.
As Cal Fire has its own minimum qualifications and unique standards that make hirings more difficult, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors has directed the county’s CEO to investigate what steps the county can take to help accelerate paramedic classes and/or paramedic hirings so that the county can prevent or reduce the number of fire engines that are downgraded to non-paramedic status.
In response to the shortage, Cal Fire said will be holding 18 fire academies in 2024, the most ever. It will also allow paramedic candidates to apply year-round.
“While the fire engine will respond to a medical aid or traffic collision without a paramedic, they will send another nearby fire engine that has a paramedic on board,” Jeffries said. So it’s just a delay, the initial impact is to the residents not having that paramedic.”
Cal Fire has hired 13 new paramedics to staff Riverside County fire stations beginning in January.