CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — Before the pandemic, EMS departments were dealing with a staffing shortage. As cases decline, the need for new candidates is still there.
“We tried offering huge sign-on bonuses, tuition reimbursements and nothing was really working,” said Nathan Harig, Assistant Chief of Cumberland Goodwill EMS.
Cumberland Goodwill EMS is trying something new. It launched the Street to Medic program. It’s for people who don’t have EMS experience or prior certification but do have an interest in becoming a first responder.
“They’re going to be paid full-time, be given benefits on day one that they start, we’ll start them at $14 an hour for their academy rate, upon graduation, upon earning that EMT certification, they immediately boost up to $15 an hour, a guaranteed spot with our agency and we’ll even further and pay their education if they want to go on and become paramedics,” said Harig.
The department is also reaching into its own pockets for this.
“We’ll be seeking some grants for it but for the most part, it’s all us and we just see the
need in serving our Carlisle community that it’s a worthwhile investment,” said Harig.
Donald Kunst with Susquehanna Township EMS says his staffing levels are steady but understands why some don’t want to get into the business.
“I’ll call it the Amazon effect of going to the warehouse and make $17 an hour,” said Kunst. “Typically, our crews go out with two people and independently their making life and death decisions about how to treat patients and that level of responsibility is for some people very challenging and what they’re looking for and willing to give up, in this case, a monetary response to that.”