This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SAN DIEGO — New hire training is underway for 12 EMTs and three paramedics at Falck, but staffing shortages continue to rock San Diego’s ambulance provider along with ambulance services nationwide. 

Falck Managing Director Jeff Behm said the new hires will help the situation. It still takes about a month before they hit the streets without a training officer and COVID-19 is still a challenge. 

“Six people just went out on Friday, like it just happens so quickly and in so many bunches,” Behm said. “The challenge with the training is that they get sick, their field training officer might get sick and now they have to wait in order for them to get better before they can get back into training.”

Behm said continued, long ER wait times — averaging three to five hours — is another challenge. Not only does it pull resources, but it means more possible exposure to COVID for the first responders while they wait with patients who have non-life-threatening likenesses or injuries. 

“When you’re sitting with a sick patient, a patient who’s sitting there being ill, and you’re sitting there with them in close quarters for a while, you know, while you’re waiting to get in and get a bed at the hospital,” Behm said. “No wonder why people are getting sick.”

He said these barriers are somewhat slowing 9-1-1 response times, but wants the public to know they’ll be there.

“Be patient, we’re going to come out,” he said. “It’s just that we have to get to the life threats first.”