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A legislative plan is taking action to help counter the statewide shortage of EMTs and paramedics.
Over the past three years, West Virginia has lost more than 1,900 EMTs and paramedics. It’s a workforce that’s short by nearly a third.
Del. Clay Riley, R-Harrison County, said the time and cost of first responder training turns many away from the job.
Gov. Jim Justice dedicated $10 million in American Rescue Plan funding to address the problems.
Beginning this fall, Riley said the state will use those funds to provide five mobile certification ambulances to travel the state offering free training and testing
“They will be able to travel to their location, whether it’s Grant County or Jefferson County or Ohio County, and be able to give them that practical hands-on training that they need in order to get certified,” Riley said.
Riley said rural counties often respond to more auto accidents than structure fires, so first responder training will be tailored to a community’s specific needs.
He said some counties are finding recruiting success by using Rescue Plan funds to set up a free first responder training program, offering uniforms, books and supplies while covering certification testing fees.
Riley said West Virginia needs to offer a competitive first responder pay scale to recruit and retain EMTs and paramedics. Counties help fund their programs in different ways, using service fees, levies or insurance billing. o.
He said all 55 West Virginia counties don’t need the same funding devices, but they should all have some sort of income plan to supplement first responder pay.