TOPEKA (KSNT) – If paying more for gas and medical equipment wasn’t enough, there’s also a national paramedic shortage going on.

The Topeka and Shawnee County American Medical Response (AMR) unit is having a hard time finding paramedics. The team is short five paramedics locally and the pool of available workers is pretty limited. AMR’s operations manager says the job simply isn’t as attractive as it used to be, especially after the pandemic. Other external factors like geographic influences, pay and quality of life in general, also play a role in the shortage.

Kansas state law requires paramedics to have an associate’s degree at minimum before being permitted to practice. AMR has several rising employees in school, but the program takes two years to complete. For every paramedic the team puts through school, that’s a large chunk of time they won’t be able to be on the job. Regardless of state laws, this is not just a local issue.

“Paramedics are short nationwide,” said Mickey Huber, Topeka and Shawnee County AMR Operations Manager. “We’re actually having fewer people enter the field than are leaving the field every year. We’re seeing the same thing as law enforcement and our fire service. Public safety is just a challenging career.”

After 34 years in the business, Huber understands that working in public safety isn’t easy, but flexible hours and different takes every day keep the job interesting. When asked why he loves his job, he told 27 News he chooses to just embrace the challenges that come with it.