Training EMS workers proves difficult in region and state, report says

Training emergency medical services providers has proven to be difficult, in the region and across the state, according to an annual report from the Lord Fairfax Emergency Medical Services Council.

According to Tracy McLaurin, executive director of the Lord Fairfax Emergency Medical Services Council, EMS providers have faced increasing training requirements. But McLaurin said that most people who volunteer to do fire or EMS work will find a way to do so.

“We do have some challenges,” McLaurin said. “But for the most part, we do find that if people are going to want to volunteer and do fire and rescue, they’re going to do it, even if you throw an increased number of hours for training them.”

McLaurin said that the EMS council has made some changes to make it easier for potential volunteers to find the hours to train and gain their state and national certification.

The organization has added online classes, so that people can have the flexibility to choose when they go through lecture material.

“If [participants have] got other commitments for work and family, they can do the lecture portion of the class whenever it’s convenient,” McLaurin said. “If they want to do it at midnight, after they’ve gotten everything else done – whatever’s convenient for them. And we bring them together…usually on the weekends and some evenings to do their practical skills.”

McLaurin said that the organization has also offered summer programs, aimed at giving college students training when they’re on break from school. Those classes take place from June until August, McLaurin said.

EMS training takes a considerable amount of time. McLaurin said that students receive 150 hours of training in the classes.

The current cost of the course is $450, McLaurin said, which includes the cost of training and certification.

“It’s basically a job skill,” McLaurin said. “You’re teaching somebody a job skill that they can actually check out and use to get themselves a job.”

The annual report also states that the organization’s net assets have gone down since last year. While McLaurin said that the organization is in a tight financial spot – “for any nonprofit, it’s a struggle,” she said, adding that the loss of assets comes largely from the depreciating value of vehicles and equipment.