SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A new group of EMT’s graduated from American Medical Response’s Earn While You Learn program. It provides some relief to the current EMT shortage we are seeing not only here in Massachusetts, but nationwide.

The program started in Buffalo and was based on the need for EMTs and is certainly helping as there is a critical shortage of emergency responders here in the northeast. It allows trainees to be paid as full time employees while they take the necessary courses to become emergency medical technicians.

Fifteen more graduated from the program at MGM’s Roar Comedy Club received accolades and inspiration from Mayor Domenic Sarno and Fire Commissioner BJ Calvi.

“The shortage is a nationwide shortage which is why this strategy was developed by one of our regional directors when he thought about it … so the theory is let’s bring people in who are interested in the medial field, get them in the door, pay them, license them, certify them as emergency medical technicians and get them a job,” said Patrick Leonardo, the Operations Manager for western Massachusetts AMR.

The Earn While You Learn programs has has more than 200 graduates in the last 36 months and 60 percent of those graduated are Springfield residents. Given the EMT shortage, the program is ongoing. A new class with 16 more prospective EMTs just started the 12 week class and training program. There is a new class approximately every four months.

At Wednesday’s graduation, Springfield Police Department Deputy Chief William Cochrane says the city generates approximately 29,700 ambulance calls a year, so there is not a shortage of work for these new graduates.

Mayor Sarno states, “I want to congratulate all the members of the graduating class of AMR’s Earn While You Learn Program. This 8th class has been a tremendous success with fifteen more new EMTs ready to begin their new career.  I am very proud of the graduates and appreciative of AMR’s continued belief and investment in our Springfield and their partnership working together to not only defeat this COVID-19 pandemic but continue their daily duties of responding to any and all health-related calls to save lives.”