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Inyo County Supervisors Seek to Bolster EMT Crews Due to Coronavirus

At the Inyo County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, the board unanimously approved a motion to request a waiver of the National Registry Test for Emergency Medical Technicians in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

This would allow the current group of individuals who are close to graduating from the EMT course at Cerro Coso College, to enter the workforce on an emergency basis without having to take the test.

Before students are allowed to become EMTs, the emergency waiver must be approved by the State of California.

The reason why the Inyo County Supervisors believe there is a dire need to reinforce the current EMT workforce is based out of the fear that there is a shortage of qualified technicians in the area. If some of the workers contract coronavirus, it could strap the already scarce resources.

Second District Inyo County Supervisor, Jeff Griffiths, spoke about the need for the waiver to get approved saying, “The state has stringent requirements on finishing the test in order to be licensed. The thing is, we are worried about if an EMT crew picks up a patient and are exposed to COVID-19. The crew would then need to be isolated, and we could run out of people to staff the ambulances. What we are asking is that the state waives the requirements, so we can get these people ready to help as soon as possible.”

Usually, the county could request additional resources in case there is a shortage of essential workers. However, Griffiths does not believe neighboring counties will be able to answer the call. The supervisor expressed, “We can reach out for additional help, but the problem is that everyone else is stretched pretty thin as well.”

Jeff Griffiths says the approximate twenty-three students who would be available to help out are a few weeks away from being fit for work. “It is hard to predict how quickly things will go with the state, but things are going faster during this time of emergency,” Griffiths expressed. “Students still have a little while left to complete coursework, but I am thinking it will be a few weeks till these students are ready to go. If the crisis drags out, we would like to have those resources available.”