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Mecklenburg EMS Agency Launches Innovative Program to Pay Future EMT's While They Train

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Already an operational, clinical and technological innovator in emergency medical services, Medic, the Mecklenburg EMS Agency, is again breaking new ground, this time in the way it hires the field personnel who deliver care to patients in and around Charlotte, N.C.

While the nation's emergency medical services agencies historically have hired EMT's and paramedics already trained in an academic setting, Medic is hiring promising local candidates who display the potential for excellence in EMS - even those with little or no medical training or background - and paying them while they go through an in-house 12-week EMT Academy.

"When we stepped back and thought about the characteristics that would make someone successful for the long term here," said Medic Executive Director Joe Penner, "three things came to mind: a commitment to this community, a passion for helping people, and an aptitude for excellence in the delivery of care. The first two are inherent to the individual, while the clinical skills are something we've proven we can teach effectively."

The proof of that effectiveness is evident. Through a partnership with the Center for Pre-hospital Medicine at the Carolinas College of Health Sciences, Medic has begun its fourth onsite academy for EMT's who already have completed academic programs; and is in its 11th year of conducting paid paramedic training for Medic EMT's who have proven themselves in the field. The pass rate on the state registry for graduates of Medic's programs is 100 percent, compared to 64 percent statewide. Medic's graduates also have passed the national registry 100 percent of the time, compared to 55 percent nationally.

"Our standards are extremely high, which is why we require all incoming EMT's and paramedics to complete our own rigorous training program, even if they are registered and have experience elsewhere," Penner said. "We firmly believe we can mirror that success with EMT candidates new to the field of EMS who display both passion and compassion, while building on the same high standards that have made Medic a model of medical excellence and quality service."

The change in approach presented a tremendous challenge to Medic's Human Resources Department, which answered with an aggressive effort that drew interest from hundreds of candidates for the innovative EMT Academy, and a rigorous screening and interview process that led to the acceptance of just 21 trainees to the program's initial class. Those prospective EMT's will begin 12 weeks of paid training Oct. 16.

"This process took us into uncharted areas, which can be harrowing," said Patricia Manzi, Medic's Director of Human Resources. "But the results of the effort - and the tremendous potential of those joining our organization - will benefit Medic and the community for years to come."

Manzi pointed to the efforts of Medic recruiter Charvetta Ford-McGriff, as well as others across the organization.

Medic also has fully implemented the first-of-its-kind Emergency Medical Education and Simulation Center, which will offer the most-advanced and challenging situational and clinical training in America for emergency medical services personnel.

Using interactive robotic "patients" on soundstages capable of duplicating virtually any scene and situation, trainees face evolving scenarios controlled by instructors, removing the predictability of the traditional classroom. From the symptoms of the lifelike robotic patients - controlled entirely by computer - to the sets, audio and video backdrops of the soundstages, the constantly changing conditions require trainees to react just as they would on actual calls.

To put the experiences to optimal use, each session is videotaped by multiple cameras operated from a control center, allowing participants to immediately review and critique their performance with instructors.

SOURCE Mecklenburg EMS Agency
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