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Legislators received an update on the state’s emergency medical services recruitment initiative during Monday’s interim meetings.
Earlier this summer, Gov. Jim Justice announced $10 million for the Answer the Call initiative, designed to recruit, train, and strengthen West Virginia’s EMS workforce.
Dr. Cynthia Persily presented the Joint Committee on Volunteer Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services with various updates from the initiative, including initial results from a survey of the state’s EMS workforce.
“What we asked is how many years they thought they would be working as an EMS worker before they retired,” she said. “One thousand fifty answered this particular question. Three hundred fifty or close to a third of those people said they’d be retiring within the next zero to five years. So as we think ahead in terms of replacement of this workforce and the need for continued training, this is important information for us to have.”
Persily said the Answer the Call initiative is helping to keep the state’s EMS services going in the face of the high retirement numbers, with more than 500 people having been trained or currently in training through the initiative.
She pointed out that as CARES Act money, the Answer the Call funding must be spent by September 30.
“We are also continuing to work with adult ed on making sure that all of our EMT and paramedic grads are ready for testing,” Persily said. “As we talked about at the last meeting, we don’t have a great percentage of pass rate on our testing.”
She said the initiative has purchased 300 subscriptions to the Platinum EMS Testing Program to address that issue.
Persily also gave an update on the state’s initiative to provide every EMS worker with a medic pack, stocked with all of the equipment that they may need in order to be a first responder.
“We have a distribution plan, it will depend on when they begin arriving in the state,” she said. “Right now we’re on target for the first about 2,000 to come into the state at the end of the month.”
Dr. Beth Wolfe presented on the University of Charleston’s EMS Leadership Training.
“We’re very proud of what the students are already saying that they’re taking out of these classes, and giving back to their teammates, as well as their communities,” she said. “We see this leadership certificate as a way to recruit, retain and prepare EMS professionals to lead.”