Pee Dee Emergency Rescue Service offers free classes to address EMT shortage

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FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) – Starting March 1, Guardian Ambulance will offer free, accelerated EMT classes in Florence.

The Pee Dee Emergency Rescue Service is offering the chance to become an EMT for free in just 10 weeks.

The company is now accepting applications for an EMT-Basic course in Florence, with free tuition, certification and testing provided by Florence-Darlington Technical College, supported by a U.S. Department of Labor grant awarded to Apprenticeship Carolina, a division of the South Carolina Technical College System.

“What we’re going to do is hire these folks, hire them in as drivers, pay them while they are in class, they’re going to take 40 hours a week, and once they get done with the class after 10 weeks they are going to take the test as EMT and once they pass as EMT, we’ll bring them on board and put them to work, Jason Herring, Operations Manager.

To further remove barriers to entering the EMS field, Guardian Ambulance is also offering a training wage and full benefits package as a full-time employee during classroom hours throughout the course. Classroom instruction will be provided at FDTC, and students will complete clinical and shift ride-alongs on Guardian ambulances.

The SC EMS Association says the Covid-19 pandemic has led to shortages in the EMT and paramedic workforce.

“COVID has extubated an issue we saw starting to develop in 2018 and 2019 and now agencies who maybe didn’t have as bad as a staffing issue, they now have people out in quarantine due to COVID and they now have a crisis,” David Porter, Board Member, SC EMS Association.

Those who apply must be 18 years or older, have a HS diploma or GED and a valid driver’s license.

“We will have a process to narrow down the best candidates, but for those candidates that doesn’t make it the first time, don’t be discouraged. We’re going to keep doing this program in this area it is needed so we are going to keep doing it,” Herring says.

Herring added that Guardian Ambulance has been affected by the pandemic.

“We do have people who have been out and they’re coming back and things of that nature but as a whole, EMS as a whole nationwide is having shortages of EMT’s and paramedics,” Herring says.

This is the first time this facility has offered a free course to the community.

“I’ve been in EMS for 20 years and it’s always been how do we get the new generations and the newer folks involved in EMS and being able to reach these folks like this…man it’s exciting and it’s good for the community too,” Herring says.

Upon passing the exam, EMTs are ready to work on an ambulance making up to $30,000 a year with room to grow up to $45,000 with additional shift-friendly, sponsored paramedic certification.

Guardian Ambulance will accept 12 students into its EMT class that begins March 1. The company plans to offer this course again on a regular schedule in the future. Applicants not accepted into this program will have the opportunity to put their application forward for future classes.

Those accepted into the program will be fully trained and onboarded to begin working on a Guardian ambulance upon passing the National Registry exam. The course is offered with a two-year employment commitment. To apply, fill out an application at www.Medshore.com/EMTBasicClass2021-Florence by February 8, 2021. Qualified applicants will take an aptitude test provided by Florence-Darlington Technical College, and finally, hiring managers will follow up to schedule an interview.

The coursework for the class will begin on March 1 and will continue for 10 weeks. Students will graduate from the course to take the National Registry exam.

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