GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- It's one of the fastest-growing careers this new year. The demand is high for emergency medical services personnel and getting the training you need to do it won't break the bank.
Talk to one of the instructors at Life EMS Ambulance and they'll tell you ambulance work is tough. But, if your drive to help others outweighs the hurdles, there's an opportunity for the taking.
Zaylie Gonzalez and Jason Frens are just two of the 18 students enrolled in the most recent course to become an emergency medical technician. Gonzalez is a young mother and wife who says she tried college, but it wasn't for her. Frens chose to leave a 20-year career of installing office furniture.
Both enrolled in the course offered through Life EMS Ambulance because they said they were ready to follow their passion. At just under $2,000, this six-month course is a fraction of the cost of a two or four-year degree.
Fortunately for these students, there’s a need for paramedics all over the country, including West Michigan, as experienced medics move out of the ambulance and into hospitals and emergency rooms. But in order to become a medic, Kraig Dodge with Life EMS says people first need to get experience as an EMT.
"A good, basic EMT, who's professional and has a good driving record and employment history, will find employment," said Dodge, a paramedic and instructor.
"They would be working along with a paramedic. On a lot of calls, the medic does main patient care because they can do advanced care a basic EMT can't do, but they provide support and drive the ambulance.”
According to Dodge, a starting basic EMT will make about $30,000 a year.
"So for a four-to-six month investment of time, you can get a job of $30,000 a year and then go on to paramedic and get those advanced skills. That’s a $40-$50,000 a year job," said Dodge.
Life EMS Ambulance plans to offer another course in March. They expect to hire 90 emergency medical technicians a year in West Michigan.
Similarly, Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service is working on creating a basic emergency medical technical class of their own because they also anticipate a need. Call (269) 684-2170 for more information.