Trooper 6 medevac helicopter faces pilot, flight medic shortages
EASTON, Md. – The Maryland State Police Trooper 6 medevac helicopter in Easton has been facing staffing shortages. This has caused the helicopter to be grounded during multiple shifts over the past few months.
Maryland State Police told 47ABC on Tuesday that Trooper 6 has primarily been lacking pilots over the past few months.
We’re told Trooper 6 missed 18 shifts in November due to pilot shortages, but thanks to a pilot returning from military duty, Trooper 6 only missed 8 shifts in December.
Since then, we’re told MSP has hired 2 new pilots, meaning they’ll only have to fill one more pilot vacancy. This means they can address the secondary problem at hand: a shortage of medics.
John Longest, a retired flight medic and Interim Dean of Faculty and Teaching at Chesapeake College said, “There’s a paramedic shortage in the state period.”
Longest says becoming a paramedic isn’t easy. “The training to become an EMT, emergency medical technician, which is the entry level, is much more than a lot of people think,” he said.
Many believe the hard work is worth it.
David Hall, a Paramedic in Talbot County said, “You know you’re making a difference, you fall in love with that.”
Unfortunately, Maryland State Police faces a unique challenge. Their flight medics have to become State Troopers before they can transfer over to aviation.
Longest said, “So you go through very rigorous entrance process and then you go through their academy, which is a very tough academy, a very thorough tough academy, and then once you’ve done that you still have to do some road time.”
Another problem MSP faces is many paramedics want to be on the ground in the center of all the action.
Hall said, “The flight paramedics kind of come as a secondary where the ground crews are there and that’s where I like to be down in the ditches.”
Longest says, however, it’s important to look at the big picture.
Longest said, “The job is so unique and it changes everyday and you’re able to make a difference in your community, really a lot of difference.”
On nights where Trooper 6 is grounded in Easton due to a shortage of medics or pilots, other medevac helicopters like Trooper 4 in Salisbury have stepped up.
Longest said, “So there may be at times where you’re waiting an extra ten minutes, very arbitrary number, to get a helicopter maybe from Baltimore versus Easton, but it is still worth that extra time to get the definitive care.”
Because other medevacs have stepped up, we’re told not a single call for help has been missed.
The two new pilots State Police hired are expected to complete training by mid February, so things are looking up for Trooper 6.
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