PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- A nationwide shortage of paramedics is impacting emergency health care service across the country, including right here in the Tampa Bay area.
By 2026, there’s expected to be around 37,000 paramedic and EMT job openings, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. Departments are having to get creative to fill openings, and Pinellas County's Sunstar Paramedics is no exception.
Sunstar, which runs around 500 to 600 ambulance calls a day, is getting ready to launch two incentive programs. One is returning for the first time in four years. The other is brand new.
The programs include:
- A returning $35,000 sign-on bonus for any paramedic who signs a 5-year-contract. At the end of the contract, they receive the payment in full.
- A new 3/6/9 program. If a paramedic signs on for 3 years, they can cash in at $15,000. If they stay for 6 years, they get a $30,000 bonus. After 9 years, they can get a $50,000 bonus.
Sunstar believes the incentive will be a great recruiting tool that they hope will lure people to join the team.
"This gives us a way to thank them and get them to want to stay with us long term," John Peterson, the Chief Operating Officer of Sunstar explained.
Sunstar's average salary for a paramedic is $44,000. If you're interested in applying to Sunstar, click here.
Schools like St. Pete College are working hard to graduate as many students as they can in EMT and paramedic fields by attracting new students and expanding existing programs.
The paramedic shortage is also impacting Hillsborough County where some agencies say they are relying on their paramedics to work 48 hours straight.