A group of new EMTs go through training as part of the civilian-to-EMT program.
A group of new EMTs go through training as part of the civilian-to-EMT program. Cleveland EMS Union leaders hope to bring in more experienced paramedics to the division after signing an agreement with the city increasing pay for paramedics transferring to Cleveland. Credit: Timothy Sommerfelt / Cleveland Association of Rescue Employees

While reporting about two new agreements between the city and the Cleveland Division of Emergency Medical Service, I learned there is a shortage of paramedics. I also learned there’s a big difference in the training required to become a paramedic — 1,000 hours — compared to an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) — 150 hours. I was surprised. So I wanted to follow up on this shortage and what it means for Clevelanders who call 911 for medical emergencies. 

To be clear, EMTs do have life-saving skills. And over time, they learn a lot from the paramedics they work with, Timothy Sommerfelt, a union representative, told me. But paramedic training is far more advanced. And because EMS providers are the first line of care in emergency situations, the ability of an EMT or paramedic to provide proper care can make the difference between life and death. 

Union leaders want Clevelanders to receive quality care from emergency medical responders, and that means their goal is to have two paramedics in most, if not all, of their ambulances. 

Thanks for reading.

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Criminal Justice Reporter (she/her)
Stephanie, who covered criminal justice and breaking news at the Chicago Tribune, is a bilingual journalist with a passion for storytelling that is inclusive and reflects the diversity of the communities she covers. She has been a reporter and copy editor for local newspapers in South Dakota, Kansas and Arizona. Stephanie is also a Maynard 200 alumni, a Maynard Institute for Journalism Education training program for journalists of color that focuses on making newsrooms more equitable, diverse and anti-racist.