When medical emergencies arise, the first responders who arrive on the scene to stabailize and transport patients are often EMTs. They don’t wear capes, but they do save lives every day. Their skills include emergency care, life-saving procedures, and the ability to remain cool and calm under pressure. EMTs don’t require a degree to get started, but they do work long hours and must be prepared for the shifts to come.
Across the state, ambulance services are battling to find enough EMTs and paramedics to cover all their call volume. That’s been true for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue. With wages on par with fast-food jobs, and long hours, potential first responders are increasingly rethinking the profession.
Aside from wages, a major factor is the cost of training. According to Clark Imus, the faculty coordinator for the EMS program at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, prospective first responders must weigh the costs of earning an EMT certificate – about $3,300 and 194 hours of coursework at KCC — against their earnings.
Then there are the other expenses that come with a full-time EMS job, such as equipment and the ongoing costs of maintaining certifications. And in most cases, if an employee works more than 40 hours a week, they’ll be paid overtime wages for the additional time. In addition to their salary, EMS professionals are eligible for benefits like health, dental and vision insurance, as well as 21 days of sick leave per year.