MyMichigan Health offers EMT and paramedic classes

When you call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency, you’ll see the original front line workers — people who may save your life. MyMichigan Health is offering an opportunity to take training for jobs as paramedics and EMTs (emergency medical technicians), front line positions since well before the COVID-19 pandemic.

First responders have this mission when they arrive on the scene: “Our job is to stabilize and bring those people to the hospital," says Scott Schaffer, the education coordinator for MyMichigan Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Midland. The courses to become EMTs and paramedics will start in January.

It's a job for those who are self-motivated and community-minded.Right now, there’s a shortage of EMTs and paramedics locally, statewide, and nationwide. Schaffer says, “We’re definitely short here. We’d like to put more ambulances on the road, but we need to put more people in those ambulances ... the field has been growing. They predict an 11% job growth rate.” 

To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years of age, have no felony convictions, and have a good driving record. You also need to be able to climb in and out of an ambulance and be able to do some lifting and moving of patients. 

Schaffer sees other traits for future EMTs and paramedics, “It’s for somebody who’s self-motivated, likes to help people, and is community-minded. It also needs to be somebody who works well with a partner and doesn’t like the typical office work. Every day is different.”

Schaffer has worked in EMS for over 25 years including 15 years as an instructor. This is not his first career, “I was in the restaurant business. I owned and managed restaurants. It was time for a change. I’ve never regretted getting into this.” Schaffer has seen candidates start at age 18 and some who’ve been in their 50’s and 60’s. 

There's a shortage of EMTs and paramedics locally, statewide, and nationally. The field is predicted to see an 11% job growth rate.The EMT course begins on Thursday, Jan. 6, and will meet through April 26 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other Friday from 6-10 p.m.

In Basic EMT, also called EMT-B, students learn basic life-saving skills and health care knowledge needed to provide pre-hospital care. These skills include assessing the patient’s condition, performing CPR, dealing with blood loss, administering bandages, managing respiratory problems, first response treatment for common injuries and emergency childbirth. The course also includes disaster and hazmat training. 

The paramedics course starts on Monday, Jan. 10 and will run through February 2023, meeting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and every other Friday, also from 6-10 p.m. You need to be certified as an EMT before you can take the paramedics course. This course builds on the training learned in Basic EMT. Attendees will learn about pharmacology, cardiology, interpreting EKG rhythms, respiratory emergencies including endotracheal intubation and emergency surgical airway procedures, trauma care, I.V. therapy, childbirth and Haz-Mat training. 

MyMichigan EMS has openings for EMTs and paramedics, part-time and full-time.The courses are taught by professionals who have years of on-the-job experience. Schaffer says, “We have very knowledgeable instructors, some of the smartest people I know.”

Schaffer says hosting the classes at MyMichigan Health is also a benefit. “We are blessed here to have our program through the hospital. We can utilize the ER (emergency room), operating rooms, respiratory and mental health staff, and a state of the art SIM lab, which features high tech simulation mannequins.”

Taking the courses through MyMichigan EMS doesn’t guarantee a position with MyMichigan but, “If you do well, have good class ethics, and do your work on time, the class is like a four-month interview. The class is held where the hiring people are,” says Schaffer.

John Clayton, the EMS manager, notes, “We have openings right now at all of our divisions, both full-time and part-time, both EMTs and paramedics.”

The starting pay for an EMT is $16 per hour, for a paramedic, $20 per hour. Experience is also a factor in the starting pay. There are also pay incentives to work nights and weekends. The cost for the EMT course is $900 and $5,500 for the paramedic. There are payment plans and opportunities to apply for scholarships and grants. After the course is completed, candidates can take a test for national certification which is honored in most states.

Starting pay for EMTs is $16. For paramedics, it's $20.For more information about the program and to find out how to apply, visit www.midlandgladwinmca.org or contact Scott Schaffer by email at scott.schaffer@midmichigan.org or phone at (989) 633-1318.

Read more articles by Ron Beacom.

Ron Beacom has served as the managing editor of Catalyst Midland since October 2020. He's also a freelance writer for the Midland Daily News and the producer/host of "Second Act: Life at 50 Plus" for WDCQ-Delta College Public Media (PBS). He's the co-producer of two WDCQ documentaries about the Tittabawassee River Disaster in 2020, "Breached! and Breached!2-The Recovery."