WNEM TV — While the Michigan Association of Ambulance Services is dealing with a shortage of paramedics, the CEO of Medstar said his issue is not having enough ambulances.

“So, we’re kind of in a little bit of a different situation than many of the others,” said Kolby Miller, CEO of Medstar.

COVID-19 has impacted car manufacturing. Vehicle chips that were made overseas has been slowed causing a backlog of people need new vehicles.

“We have more employees than we can but in the vehicles during some of our shifts. So now we’re having to catch up on vehicle production and vehicle access. By buying other ambulances,” Miller said.

Even though he has enough workers, Miller said staffing is a concern for many smaller EMT services especially in rural areas.

“We need state legislature to understand that EMS is a vital resource in the community. And expecting us to operate on Medicaid money. That is 20 years since our last increase. It’s an incredible expectation,” Miller said.

He said that is something that should change for the sake of people needing help during emergencies. “When there’s not an ambulance at all – that’s a problem. And in the smaller areas. In smaller rural communities. In some of the areas where the healthcare economics don’t support the growth or investment in personal. We could really find ourselves in a bad situation,” Miller said.

That is why Michigan EMS agencies are asking Michigan leaders for a $10 million funding increase to help them better cover costs, pay EMS heroes better wages and recruit more staff. Something Miller hopes happens.

He said demand in his area, Genesee and metro Detroit, and his paid training program helps retain staff, which he admits might now be easy for other areas to do. Miller hopes that issue can be addressed along with the chip shortage.

System wide he would like to add another 20 ambulances to the fleet, but they might be a while.

“I think when the chip shortage on the manufacturing side gets straightened out it will improve. But I think it will be a while before the backlog is resolved,” Miller said.

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