A new program aims to give Emergency Medical Technicians on the job training while creating a homegrown talent pool of emergency responders.
Sumter County is now accepting applications for its EMT Trainee program, a new offering that came about to help bolster staffing for Emergency Medical Services.
Asst. EMS Director Kent Hall said the idea is pretty simple: Folks with no medical background will start out as an Emergency Vehicle Operator. She or he will attend classes and also go through the road course before taking several shifts of driving with a Field Training Officer who will observe the trainee. During both emergency and non-emergency situations, the trainee will get comfortable driving an ambulance.
Training in CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation), first aid, blood borne pathogens and other basic skills will follow, with guidance from certified provider. Becoming familiar with their equipment, where it’s located on an ambulance and other basic lifesaving skills are also part of the training.
Time will be split between being on an ambulance and in classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday learning basic EMT from Hall, a seasoned Paramedic who has been teaching for years.
“This schedule gives them (trainees) the opportunity to be home at night with their families,” he said. “Some days they will go class on shift and some days they won’t.”
After three months of training, a trainee can take the test to become a nationally certified Emergency Medical Technician and then apply for certification in South Carolina, he said.
The next step after that is working shifts like other EMTs and Paramedics – 24 hours on and 72 hours off.
“We want to fill several positions immediately and we will have homegrown EMTs in our system, people who are invested in our community,” he said.
People often cite the cost of an EMT class as an obstacle to becoming a first responder. That’s not an issue with the new EMT Trainee program.
“They will go to class at no cost – not only that, they’re getting paid with a full-time job with benefits while they’re home at night with their families,” he said.
Insurance, a retirement plan, sick and vacation leave and no out-of-pocket tuition costs are a pretty strong incentive, he said, “and something a little different than what people might be used to if they want to become Emergency Medical Technicians.”
Potential trainees can visit Sumter County’s website under the Human Resources tab for more information: www.sumtercountysc.org.
Chief Bobby Hingst, Director of Sumter County EMS, said they look forward to finding new talent and adding to their team.
“We’re going through interviews as we speak and it’s nice to see plenty of interest in this new program,” he said. “If you want to become an EMT, this is your chance.”