Free EMT class offered as shortage continues

Ambulance services and emergency responders from other regions have come to the Houston area this week to help respond to emergencies in the wake of Hurricane Beryl.

There's been a shortage of EMTs in Texas and nationwide since the pandemic. That's why one ambulance service is offering a free EMT training class to recruit more professionals.

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When lives are on the line, precious seconds count. EMTs, Emergency Medical Technicians, are needed to save lives. But there's been an EMT shortage since the pandemic, when many left the industry.  

"In our 911 markets, we don't have enough ambulances. You're looking at people that maybe are stuck in their houses in rural areas for over 30 minutes, and it's an emergency situation," said Anya Thibodeaux with Acadian Ambulance.

"You're looking at hospitals that sometimes need to transfer from one hospital to another, and the call volume could be so high we're giving two and three hour wait times," she said.

To make sure emergencies are covered in the wake of Hurricane Beryl, Thibodeaux says ambulance services from other regions have come into the Houston area to help.

"We are bringing other units in from our Austin district, some of our Southeast Texas, Beaumont area. Guys are coming in to help, and we do have a couple of crews from Louisiana that are coming," said Thibodeaux.

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In 2021, the Texas legislature allocated millions of dollars for the Texas Department of State Health Services Emergency Medical Services Scholarship Program, which recruited 6,000 new EMTs, but more are still needed.  

Thibodeaux says Acadian Ambulance is using some of those funds to offer a free EMT training class.

"It is a three-month traditional hybrid class. So three days of the week there will be online courses, two days of the week you will be in Baytown at our NEMSA station there, doing in-person skills," she explained.

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They hope more people will enter the profession to make a difference.

"To help people, you know, on the worst days of their lives, to take care of people whenever needed in those emergency situations," she said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says EMTs and paramedics earn between $23,000 and $60,000 a year.

Acadian Ambulance's tuition-free EMT class begins Monday, July 15.

Students would have to pay for their books, testing fees, and uniforms, which total a few hundred dollars.