Labor pains: EMS, fire departments across the state struggle to keep and retain paid-staff, volunteers

  • Source: Sun Prairie Star
  • Published: 12/09/2022 03:45 PM

Across Wisconsin, fire departments and emergency medical service (EMS) agencies have a people problem—a major people problem. They don’t have enough of them. They are struggling to hire and retain paramedics, firefighters and emergency technicians. The problem is so acute that some volunteer fire and EMS departments don’t have enough personnel to respond to 911 calls. Some of those agencies face going out of business and the shortages also impact neighboring departments in some larger communities facing their own personnel shortages. “They just don’t have the staff,” said Jim Ponkauskas, chief of the Janesville Fire Department. “When the phone goes off they don’t have anybody to respond. It’s the career departments that are being summoned after that to respond and cover.” Others across the region and state concur.


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