Program designed to encourage growth in EMT field

A new program on the way to Lexington is designed to recruit more first responders.
Published: Jul. 25, 2021 at 10:14 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A new program on the way to Lexington is designed to recruit more first responders.

American Medical Response, an emergency rescue service, is launching its “Earn While You Learn” training course in Fayette County. The service starts next month.

AMR clinical education specialist Amber Vires said, in an industry with high demand the number of first responders is low.

“EMS has been struggling with a shortage of personnel for some time, that was certainly thrown into the face of stark relief in the face of COVID-19,” she said.

Vires said there’s a lot of reasons for the trend.

“Certainly the stress of the job, burnout, the same things that we see across healthcare are the same factors, we also have an aging population,” she said.

To respond to the call, AMR is introducing the “Earn While You Learn” program starting Aug. 23 to Lexington-area residents.

“There’s still time to take care of other responsibilities, there’s not that big upfront cost, and it’s the chance to have the service invested in you from the start,” Vires said.

Trainees are paid while they take the 11 week course. Vires said they expect class sizes to range from six to 18 people.

“It takes a lot of those financial barriers away that we can otherwise have people facing,” she said.

Candidates will go through an interview and complete a physical ability test, but program directors said the most important qualification they’re looking for is a willingness to learn.

“People that very much are interested in helping, people that have some interest in medicine,” Vires said. “EMT is actually a very flexible certification entry point, it’s great for people that are interested in healthcare, but not sure they want to do it. You’re not looking at a two or four year degree or graduate school just to find out that you hate it in clinical care.”

Vires said the program is shown to recruit more women and people of color.

“It’s so important in medicine for people to be able to see those they recognize be giving their care,” she said.

As a first responder herself, she said she loves the pace of the job.

“You can see the difference right away and you never doubt that it mattered that you came in,” Vires said.

Applications for the program are due July 31.

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