Darlington County battles paramedic shortage

DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – Darlington County has a paramedic shortage. Of the 15 positions within the county, six are vacant.

A man who used to work for the county says being short staffed is resulting in the county not following state law. Darlington County officials say it’s difficult to recruit and retain paramedics, especially while competing with neighboring counties willing to pay more.

Allen Tisdale runs a private ambulance company, but he used to be a paramedic for Darlington County.
He went to county council with his concerns.

“They are going down ambulances or running ambulances without paramedics that is required by state law,” claims Tisdale.

South Carolina regulations say a paramedic must be present on 95 percent of emergency calls.

Darlington County Administrator Charles Stewart and county EMS director Michelle Moore admit the county isn’t following the law. The county relies on volunteer rescue squads if its medics are busy.

“Our volunteers are working day and night to try and catch up with these calls that the county is not able to run,” describes Anna Dewitt, Darlington Firemen Rescue Advanced EMT.

EMS director Michelle Moore wouldn’t speak on camera, but she blames a nationwide paramedic shortage.

Darlington County Administrator Marion Stewart says a paramedic shortage is not uncommon in the county, and he is hopeful the positions will be filled. The county has increased the hiring salary for paramedics by $6,000.

Darlington County Council referred Tisdale to the ambulance commission to voice his concerns. Tisdale plans to speak with the commission at its monthly meeting July 27.