Priority Ambulance looking for emergency workers
Ed Marcum of the Knoxville News Sentinel
Emergency medical workers are in high demand these days, and Knoxville-based Priority Ambulance is holding a job fair Thursday to recruit for emergency medical technician (EMT) and paramedic positions.
Priority needs to expand to serve growing demand from hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities, but elsewhere across the country, ambulance companies are having problems filling emergency-personnel positions, said Rob Webb, vice president of Priority's Tennessee Operations.
"There is a national shortage of EMTs and paramedics because a lot of companies are hiring them away from ambulance companies. We are competing with hospitals, doctors' offices and even flight services now," he said.
"We have been very fortunate in that we are not in a mass shortage of employees," he said. "The reason we are hiring is we are expanding and need more people."
Priority is holding an open house and job fair at its headquarters at 910 Callahan Drive, Suite 101, from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday. Prospective employees will get to tour the facility and its fleet of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ambulances. Priority will be offering signing bonuses based on certification level and experience, Webb said.
Priority plans to hire six to eight more emergency workers so it can add two ambulances to its Knoxville fleet, he said.
In January, competing ambulance operator Rural/Metro of East Tennessee also held a job fair, seeking to sign up paramedics and EMTs. At the time, Chris Bakch, Rural Metro's vice president of operations for East Tennessee, said the high cost of training, plus an increasing level of required expertise, were discouraging people from entering the field.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for EMTs and paramedics is expected to grow 24 percent from 2014 to 2024, exceeding the average of 7 percent growth for all other occupations. The only other field approaching this level of expected demand is health technologists and technicians, which is expected to grow 16 percent by 2024.
The bureau cites an aging population and an increase in the number of specialized medical facilities as factors driving this trend.
Priority Ambulance entered the Knoxville market in 2014, and besides Knoxville, has a facility in Blount County and another in Loudon County. Among the three locations, Priority has a total fleet of 20 ambulances and workforce of about 100 people.
Priority has an extensive presence outside Tennessee, with facilities in Alabama, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania and Indiana. It about 1,000 workers and 170 ambulances.