Mayo Ambulance training program hopes to increase EMT numbers

Published 5:43 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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A new training program by Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service will soon be launched to help find answers to the problem of EMT shortages in the area..

The EMT-in-Training Program looks to train those interested in becoming EMTs by paying them to learn and then to pass the National Registry of EMTs exam.

The hope is that when the training is completed, they can be hired as full time EMTs with full benefits.

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“Essentially, our purpose is to recruit and retain some of our local community members and that’s been a struggle we’ve had for the past several years,” said Amy Wollenburg, assistant supervisor for the Austin and Albert Lea areas and educator. She’s been with Mayo Ambulance for 18 years.

On Monday night the second of two informational sessions were held at the Mayo Clinic Ambulance headquarters in Austin and included people from Austin, Hayward, Wells and Alden just to name a few.

The training is open to anybody with the only stipulations being that they are 18 and older and that they have a high school diploma. Prospective EMTs won’t have to pay for any of the training.

“The class we’re holding is the EMT course, but we’re paying you to come take the course and hopefully retain you after that,” Wollenburg said.

The training course will take 320 hours to complete — five days at 40 hours a week. Through the training, those in the course will be treated as tenured employees.

Mayo will provide everything for the course, including text books and a loaner laptop, national certification preparation and full-time employment opportunities upon successful completion.

However, before they enter the training those taking part will be interviewed for the position.

Interviews will be conducted on June 17 with classes slated to start on Aug. 5 with the hope that after it’s all said and done, 10 people will be hired.

“One of the biggest reasons we are offering the pay for the EMT course is we think there are a lot of candidates out there, but they are limited because they have bills to pay, and they have other jobs to take care of,” Wollenburg said. “Our hope is if we pay them to take our course, they can focus on this.”

Wollenburg said there has been a good number of candidates in the information sessions and that other organizations have tried this in the past and it’s worked.

The shortage for EMTs is nothing new and has been a concern for rural services for a while now, but it’s not singular to them. Mayo Ambulance has also noted a struggle to hire, especially locally with Wollenburg saying that many of the local staff currently are coming from Iowa.

“We’re seeing a lot of the same thing,” she said. “It’s just been a struggle to find paramedics and EMTs alike. I don’t know the reason behind that, but it’s been a struggle for years.”

“We’re short staffed like everywhere else,” she added.

She also went on to say that another incentive for taking part in the training is the level of training itself that people will receive.

“A lot of these people, they’ve got it made if they come in and take this course,” Wollenburg said. “Troy (Holtz) and I have been teaching EMT courses in this area for a lot of years. Some we know, some are new. People that come in are getting some top notch training from everybody involved.”