On any given day, Eric Mailman could transport a baby requiring intensive from one hospital to another Or help an elderly patient in cardiac arrest.
Mailman could answer between four and 17 calls a day on shifts that can stretch well beyond 24 hours.
The only guarantee is his days and nights will be busy and unpredictable.
Northern Light Health Paramedic Eric Mailman says, “If it’s a slow day, then you are doing well. But those days where the demand is high and you have an increased call volume and everyone decides to be sick all at one time, you are really struggling.”
Mailman works at Northern Light Health, where 170 people are employed in emergency medical services.
But the rural Maine system is in need of about 10 percent more EMS staffers, and hiring is proving to be increasingly challenging, in a tight labor market where fewer people are entering the profession.
Northern Light Health Joe Kellner says, “Unemployment is low, that is a big part of it. This is a job that people used to get into, one of the more common job paths was through volunteerism. And volunteerism is way down from what it used to be.”
The need for EMS talent stretch beyond Maine– some 37,000 EMS and paramedic jobs will be added through 2026 according to BLS.
Demand for EMS workers comes at a time when the health care sector is adding a myriad of jobs.
Some 42,000 were added in January and in December the sector had its best month for job creation in decades as the population continues to age and seek care and workers age out of their roles in the industry.
A strong job market is also having another effect.
Altarum Sustainable Health Spending Strategies Co-Director Ani Turner says, “More people with health benefits, more people with insurance increases demand health care, and therefore health jobs.”
One thing is for sure, as more people seek care, workers like Mailman will be ready to answer the call.
You get to step into the chaos of the worst day of somebody’s life and bring calm and bring peace and have the ability to step in and help somebody on their worst day and that to me is priceless
Northern Light Health is working to find reliable funding to attract potential employees with competitive paid time off and better retirement options but the labor shortage is a problem that isn’t going away any time soon.