AUSTIN (KXAN) — Amid a national labor shortage of emergency medical technicians and paramedics, one company is looking to expand certification training here in Austin — and is paying attendees and offering a job at the end of the program.
Beginning Jan. 10, Acadian Ambulance and the National EMS Academy will offer an accelerated EMT training course to help boost the number of EMT personnel in the greater Austin area. The program, which will run Monday through Friday for seven to eight weeks, will train between 20 and 30 students looking to join the field.
And demand for emergency service employees is growing in Central Texas, said Rusty Wood, director of operations for Acadian Ambulance’s West Texas division. Particularly with heightened demand for in-hospital assistance, more EMTs are getting pulled off ambulances and into hospital environments, he said.
“The call for help is coming more and more every single day, and all of the agencies across Texas are all in the same predicament,” he said. “There’s only so many certified people out there to be able to share and to be able to pull from.”
Locally, that strain has also been felt by city and county-run operations, including the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services. The Austin-Travis County EMS Association is currently in the midst of contract negotiations with the City of Austin to increase starting pay, as Association President Selena Xie said 50 medics have left the department this year.
Acadian Ambulance operates in Austin, Pflugerville and Bastrop, having just signed a contract with the city of Pflugerville in November. That contract, with Acadian Ambulance set to serve as the city’s official EMS source, begins at midnight on Jan. 1.
“This year, as the clock strikes midnight, our dispatchers will send a different ambulance when someone calls for service,” said Doug Weiss, mayor pro-tem of Pflugerville City Council. “And I expect that to be entirely seamless and transparent to our citizens.”
For those interested in Acadian’s EMT trainings, Wood said no baseline medical knowledge is needed to apply. The pay is “competitive” within the region, he said, with an average compensation listed between $40,000 and $50,000.
The course includes 160 hours of in-classroom medical education, alongside 80 hours of skills training and time spent treating patients in ambulances. After passing Acadian’s final exam and the national registry exam, class participants will be able to obtain certification in Texas.
Specific skills covered include emergency vehicle operations, oxygen administration, bleeding control and patient assessment.
EMTs’ central focus is assessing patients and evaluating for any potentially life-threatening injuries or illnesses that might be present, according to the University of California at Los Angeles’ Center for Prehospital Care. They provide basic life support care, such as performing CPR, bandaging wounds or treating burns and fractures.
Meanwhile, paramedics require longer, more specialized training into anatomy, cardiology, and related sciences. Their specialty is on administering medications, training in advanced cardiac life support, providing advanced care and treating life-threatening medical or traumatic injuries.
And for those interested in advancing through an EMS career path, Acadian offers paramedic trainings. Once a certified EMT, participants can enroll in an 18-month program to advance up the industry ladder.
“It just gives you a better opportunity to absorb all the knowledge,” Wood said. “As well as, it’s so important to get that actual hands-on patient care experience — holding the hand of that loved one, talking to a family member, talking to patients. You can’t train that in the classroom. It’s just, it’s got to be experience-based.”