BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Bay County Emergency Services is facing somewhat of a crisis. Officials said they’re in the midst of a severe paramedic shortage.

Emergency Services Chief Brad Monroe said the department is actively recruiting to fill 15 vacant spots.

“If we had more people, we’d have more units out there in the field, it’s better service to the public and it’s better service to the tourists that visit our area,” Monroe said. “So we’re working on that.”

Monroe said the team is interviewing candidates daily, recruiting in high schools, and offering scholarships through Gulf Coast State College.

“There’s fire and EMT/paramedic programs; we actually pay for those programs,” Monroe said. “If you go and sign up to work for us, we’ll send you through school. There’s tuition benefits after that.”

Monroe said Bay County EMTs are on the higher end of the pay scale, with starting rates at around $50,000.

Bay County pays on a sliding scale. The more experience you have, the higher your salary.

In the meantime, Monroe is asking people to avoid calling 9-1-1 in non-emergency situations.

“In the last few years, it has increased, and we make sure that everyone gets to the hospital, while some of these calls tie up critical units that could be used on another 911 call, a major vehicle crash, a heart attack, and stuff like that,” Monroe said. “So we encourage folks that have a fever or feel ill not to use the 911 system as a conduit to get to the doctor’s office.”

To apply, head to the Bay County career page.