As need for EMTs grows, company launches “earn to learn” program


LAWRENCE — An ambulance service based in Lawrence is offering a new opportunity to train Hoosiers with a passion for healthcare on how to become EMTs.

Industry-wide, there’s a dire need for emergency medical technicians. Heartland Ambulance Service provides emergency and non-emergency transport and employs around 150 workers. They need to hire around 80 more people and say it hasn’t been easy.

“In our field, it’s always been hard to hire. It’s been that way, trending that way for the last couple of years, but COVID really sped that up and finding a skilled workforce has been very very difficult,” Amish Patel with Heartland Ambulance Service said.

The company is launching the “Earn to Learn” program – new hires will be drivers first and then trained to become EMTs.

EMT Halie Hardwick spends her workdays on the road and on the scene. She fell in love with medicine in high school and is now helping to make a difference for those who rely on her care.

“Doing non-emergent service, one of the really special parts about our job is that a lot of times we get to see patients over and over. You get to create those relationships with people,” Hardwick said.

As rewarding as the job is, Hardwick and her colleagues feel the pressure of working in a field that simply needs more people.

“We need help. A lot of times we’ll come into work and have to work extra just to make sure that our patients get seen, because obviously we want them to get to their appointments and things like that. And so, it’s important for us to make sure that happens on a day to day basis – and with more staff, we would be able to meet that need,” she said.

You don’t need a medical background to be trained as an EMT, but you do need to come ready to learn. Hardwick says the career takes dedication and willingness to learn.

“Basically you would come here to Lawrence every day, 8 to 4, and for one month we would pay you 40 hours a week to just go to school and become an EMT. We cover all the costs, books, tuition, even the testing at the end,” Patel said.

The testing leads to EMT certification, which leads to a salary increase.

“If you come in as an EMT, it’s a stepping stone to other careers in healthcare, whether it be nursing or paramedicine or anything like that. An EMT is a great foundation to go forward in healthcare, if it’s something that interests you,” Patel said.

You will need a driver’s license and clean driving record to start as an ambulance driver. Drivers start at $14 per hour, and pay goes up from there depending on EMT and paramedic certification levels.

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