ASHEBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Randolph County Emergency Services is bringing back a unique recruitment tool to help ease the burden on current workers.

The department is down eight full-time and 16 part-time paramedics. The shortage is forcing workers to pick up extra shifts to ensure an ambulance is available when you dial 911.

Randolph County EMS is offering a ride-along program. You can spend the day shadowing paramedics and going out on calls.

It’s a fast-paced job with a lot riding on the line. With eight full-time positions open, Alyssa Hollady and her partner Cindy are working long hours to fill the gaps.

“There’s a lot of days where we might not get breaks to really sit down and eat,” said Hollady, who started as a paramedic at the department in February 2021. “A lot of times we go to a call, get sent to another one directly after, and it’s a lot in a 12-hour shift.”

Sometimes there are so many calls at once, the duo’s truck is the only one available to respond, even if they’re on the other side of the county. That means a longer wait for your loved one needing care when time is of the essence.

“Knowing that I was so far away before I could get to them, sometimes it affects us,” Hollady said. “It affects the patient, and it’s hard.”

That’s why the department is recruiting through the ride-along program. Assistant Operations Officer Bradley Cooper recently signed up several high schoolers to take part. But it takes at least a year to get your paramedic license, and COVID-19 shut down several of the classes.

“All the colleges not really putting out new graduates has essentially put us about a year and a half behind,” Cooper said.

As Randolph County EMS continues to attract new employees through $4,500 sign-on bonuses and $200 overtime shift bonuses, Hollady will continue to work the extra hours, knowing she’s making a difference.

“Showing up to that call and knowing that I can help someone, potentially save their life, it’s always worth it,” she said.

The department is also down a few part-time EMTs. You can contact the county if you’re interested in participating in a ride-along.