Scholarships for Butler Tech EMT students underline need for more life-savers

Several local organizations hope perk of getting paid while taking classes will draw more people to the career.

As fire departments and health networks struggle to fill emergency medical technician positions, several local organizations are hoping the perk of getting paid while taking classes will draw more people to the career.

Kettering Health Network’s transportation service is going to pay tuition and full-time wages for 24 candidates who attend the EMT Academy at Butler Tech next year.

AMR, a national company that transports patients for Dayton-based Premier Health, also recently announced a program to pay 20 candidates as they go through the EMT training process and become certified.

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There’s a nationwide struggle to fill EMT positions, said David Gerstner, president of the Greater Miami Valley EMS Council.

“It’s not limited to the Dayton region and it’s not limited to the state of Ohio,” Gerstner said.

Nationally, employment of EMTs and paramedics is projected to grow 7% from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average occupation growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

EMTs, who administer emergency medical care and transport the sick, make on average $32,500 in Ohio and it can a stressful job with odd hours. But the work can also make a life-saving difference for patients in need of emergency care.

“You get to meet lots of people, you get to help people in times of troubles,” said Gerstner, who added that while the pay widely varies between employers, he has made a good living from the career.

He said the job has changed since he got into the profession more than 40 years ago, at a time when funeral companies were often also the ambulance service because they had vehicles where people could lie down.

“Early in my career I worked for a funeral home that provided ambulance and I had taken the Red Cross first aid course and I was the most trained person there. There was almost no training. The concept of EMT and paramedic didn’t exist until the late ’60s, early ’70s,” he said.

Since then, the job has adopted more professional standards and the educational requirements have climbed, and many fire departments have less volunteers to do the job and have switched to paid positions.


By the numbers

$15.48: EMT average wage in Ohio as of May 2018

7%: Projected EMT and paramedic job growth from 2018 to 2028

10,180: EMTs, paramedics in Ohio as of May 2018


“For decades, as we tried to improve the professionalism of EMS and tried to require additional training so patients got good care, the number of hours just kept going up and up and up,” Gerstner said.

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While fire departments are hiring EMTs, so are hospital networks, who employ the workers to transport patients between different points in the system.

For Kettering Mobile Care, which transports Kettering Health Network patients, the goal is to build up the pipeline of workers to patients between the health network’s hospitals, emergency departments and outpatient facilities.

“It’s a great investment in our community,” said Dereck Pristas, president of Kettering Mobile Care. “We are creating career opportunities for 24 people and helping to fill a need for EMTs in southwest Ohio.”

Dayton fire Chief Jeff Payne, Mayor Nan Whaley, American Medical Response regional director John Robben and Beth Calcidise, director of CareFlight and transportation with Miami Valley Hospital. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Gerstner said he thinks the new training programs are good for the whole region, and the EMTs that go through the program might also go on to volunteer for local fire departments as well as work for their new employer.

Pristas said Kettering Mobile Care will pay all tuition costs, including books, program fees and their National Registry testing fee. The will also pay each candidate a wage as a student to go to school full time and after eight weeks they’ll finish the program as a certified EMT with a guaranteed job at Kettering Health Network as a Mobile Care EMT. The eight-week class begins Jan. 6.

Pristas said in a statement that he anticipates the program will benefit local public safety partners, since some of the students may work part time for local fire departments when not on duty with Kettering Mobile Care.

AMR is offering to pay people who participate in its first new class in Dayton, expected to begin Jan. 24. There are 20 slots for the first class, and AMR expects to hire about 50 EMTs in the Dayton area next year. Candidates selected for the program are immediately hired as employees and are compensated as they attend AMR’s EMT basic certification course.

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