December 26, 2016 10:33 AM
Christmas Day is a day filled with counting one’s blessings. One Minneapolis mother was doing just that after clicking on an ad for the EMS Pathways Academy she saw posted online.
"I definitely think about the Facebook post; I feel blessed for being able to see that post, and how amazing to have that opportunity," Celia Thomas, a paramedic student at Hennepin EMS, said.
Back in the spring, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS started following Thomas’ journey, along with a couple dozen other students in the EMS Pathways Academy, a new partnership with Hennepin EMS and Minneapolis Fire to train EMTs and recruit new firefighters.
"It's been pretty awesome,” said Thomas, who earned a paramedic scholarship through the academy. “Never in a million years – you would have never been able to tell me I'd become a paramedic, but here I am, almost a paramedic.”
Hennepin EMS ambulances make about 75,000 emergency runs per year, not including the many runs of transporting patients to medical facilities in 14 communities in the Twin Cities metro.
The average length of service is about five years for paramedics in the department; the stress of the line of work is one reason for that number, the agency said.
"Recruiting paramedics has got tougher," Hennepin EMS Chief Wendy Lynch said.
The Pathways Academy helped Hennepin EMS fill staffing shortages that other Twin Cities EMS companies are also facing.
"The biggest thing we have seen is just watching them light up at the end,” Lynch said. “’I can actually do this.’ These are people who previously didn't think this was an opportunity, and now they are, ‘Wow, I can do this.’ To me, that is satisfaction."
Hennepin EMS only hires paramedics to run in their ambulances; some of the other academy graduates who are certified EMTs are being trained to work as dispatchers in the call center.
"This moment means I'm no longer a statistic," said Thomas, who will become a paramedic later in 2017.
The city of Minneapolis plans to start recruiting for cadets for the EMS Pathways Academy later this winter.
Updated: December 26, 2016 10:33 AM
Created: December 26, 2016 10:20 AM
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