Susquehanna Valley ‘EMT Recruit Academy’ aims to attract new workers

MOUNT JOY, Lancaster County, Pa. --- The pitch is simple: get paid to learn.

Susquehanna Valley Emergency Services will soon narrow down to 12 recruits for its first 'EMT Recruit Academy.'

Rob Walker, education manager for Susquehanna Valley EMS, said more than 80 people applied when the program was first announced.

It requires certain qualifications, such as a valid drivers license to operate an ambulance and a high school diploma.

As a national shortage of EMS workers grips central Pennsylvania, Walker said the purpose of the academy is to attract new people.

With career changes causing financial uncertainty, Walker said they're looking to remedy that burden by offering a paycheck to recruits while they go through a six week training course to become EMT certified.

Training will be Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm and the recruits will work at minimum wage.

Upon graduation, recruits work for Susquehanna Valley EMS and see a pay increase.

“Right off the bat, we say we’re going to invest in you. We’re going to pay you to come get the training with us. We’d like you to come and work with us for a year, commit to work with us for a year but right from the very beginning, we’re going to pay you, we believe in you," said Walker.

One hopeful is David Laughner from Lititz.

As a physical therapy technician, he said the prospect of earning an immediate paycheck drew him to apply for the academy.

He said his inspiration comes from a family history of emergency services, particularly his grandfather who served the Emergency Service Unit for the New York Police Department.

“I would love to be a first responder, number one and number two, I’d just love to give back to the community," said Laughner.

Walker said he hopes the recruit academy allows the opportunity for some to pursue a goal of being an EMT.

“…Maybe leave their job in retail or waiting tables to come to class, learn how to be an EMT and become a caring provider and be able to give back to their community,” said Walker.

Walker said they hope to have their final 12 recruits finalized by the beginning of next week.

He said training is expected to start at the end of the February.

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