GREENSBORO, N.C. — A lack of first responders is plaguing departments across the Triad.
Greensboro Police and Guilford County Emergency Services are both dealing with staffing issues. They're trying new incentives to get people in the door and keep the current staff from leaving.
Calls to 911 have gone down but EMS still doesn't have enough workers.
"The impact of the Covid pandemic persists. It has made it harder for us to retain and recruit," Kyle Paschal said.
Paschal is the Deputy Director for Guilford County Emergency Services.
Greensboro Police see the same problem and low recruitment leads to overworked staff.
"The number of officers that we should have our city, we don't have those officers," Greensboro Police Chief Brian James said.
Guilford County got three extra emergency crews from FEMA back in September. They left this week, just as calls are creeping back up.
"We're comfortable with where it's at right now. We're not comfortable with where it's headed," Paschal said.
Both departments have taken steps to retain their workers.
EMS gave field crews a 10 percent raise. Greensboro Police increased pay too. Officers with 15 years or more of experience are now getting $56,000 a year. They're also working on a take-home car program.
James asked the city council at this week's work session for more incentives. He wants a sign-on bonus plus more money for officers who speak a second language, with military experience or who work the night shift.
"Those bonuses could overlap with each other so if someone was bilingual, if someone had military experience or if they work the night shift they could actually essentially take advantage of all of those programs," James said.
EMS is spreading the word through advertisements about openings and increased pay, hoping someone answers.
"They don't necessarily have to have experience in EMS or on an ambulance to be able to be recruited by us. What they do have to have is experience in service to other people," Paschal said.
GPD said there are 50 vacancies, although there are 30 soon-to-be officers in their current police academy.
EMS has 26 open positions and only three in their orientation class.