Update Oct. 10, 2019
Susquehanna Valley EMS reports lots of interest in the program from potential participants and other agencies. It's starting its third class of 12 recruits. From the first two classes, it has added 16 EMTs to its roster.
Posted Jan. 9, 2019
The second-most called upon emergency medical services provider in Lancaster County has as new idea for filling its EMT deficit: a paid, apprenticeshiplike program.
Susquehanna Valley EMS announced Monday that it is accepting applications for its first “EMT Recruit Academy,” which will give potential EMTs a job if they successfully complete the six-week training program.
“It's a new concept … this is taking somebody off the street and paying them to get trained for the career,” said Michael Fitzgibbons, CEO of the agency, which was dispatched to more than 12,000 calls in Lancaster County in 2017.
Students will be paid to attend eight-hour classroom and clinical shifts five days a week for six weeks. From there, they will be eligible to become certified as an EMT. Once certified, they'll be offered a job with Susquehanna Valley EMS and required to commit to one year of work.
During the training period, students will be paid minimum wage. Pay will go up to $10-$13 per hour once they're certified, with opportunities to increase with certification levels, Fitzgibbons said.
Applications are due Feb. 8, and the institute starts Feb. 21. Fitzgibbons hopes to have 10 in the class.
Susquehanna Valley EMS has 16 full-time EMTs, which is three short of being fully staffed, Fitzgibbons said.
Declining EMT numbers has been an issue statewide, according to a September report from PA Township News. The report said Pennsylvania lost 6,252 EMTs between 2012 and 2016, many due to the costs and time required to become certified.
Fitzgibbons said the program is the first of its kind in Lancaster County, and he doesn't know of any EMS agencies in Pennsylvania with a similar program either.
They’re looking for people who are compassionate, responsible and willing to work hard, he said.
“If they have some medical background, that's great. If not, it's something that we'll be training them to do,” Fitzgibbons said.
More information is available at svems.org/recruit.