Hunter’s, Hartford HealthCare look to remedy EMT shortage with paid training

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MERIDEN — Hartford HealthCare and Hunter’s Ambulance hope a paid training program for emergency medical technicians will help remedy a shortage of EMT workers that worsened during the pandemic.

The paid training program called Earn to Learn will provide 180 hours of emergency medical training at Hunter’s Ambulance on West Main Street to qualified individuals who will be paid as they work with seasoned professionals. Upon completion, the participant will earn a national certification.

“This program is very unique,” said Gary Havican, president of the Hospital of Central Connecticut and MidState Medical Center. “We can train them on the job as they go... and begin the (patient) relationship in the pre-hospital arena.”

Havican began his EMT training at age 17 and went on to become a paramedic. He credits his early skills training in crisis management for his ability to climb the leadership ladder in health care administration. Early EMT training can also introduce participants to a variety of available medical careers, he said.

Hunter’s Ambulance is accepting applicants for Earn to Learn until Dec. 7 and will screen and select eight to 10 candidates for its first training round that begins Jan.17. Prerequisites include a high-school diploma or equivalent and a four-year clean driving record. After a background and drug screening, the successful candidates will immediately become Hunter’s Ambulance employees. A second cohort of trainees will be hired in the fall.

“Some of our applicants are Meriden residents,” said Kevin Ferrarotti, senior director of EMS Network Development for Hartford HealthCare. “Public service has had a decline over the last several years. Some people do not have the ability to afford the training or have the time for it. This allows them to start as a full-time employee.

“Fire and police departments do something similar. It’s a newer concept and a first time for Hunter’s. We’re taking best practices on what we’ve done in the health care system and bringing them into the EMS world,” Ferrarotti said.

Acquisition, transition

Hartford HealthCare acquired the family-owned ambulance service provider in May. The health care network retained its 250 employees and continued contracts and training classes on West Main Street and a planned expansion on its East Main Street site.

“The HHC people were very gracious,” Hunter’s former vice president David Lowell said about the transition. “They’ve kept everything we’ve done over the years and practices and processes. We expect some things to change as they get into it. They are a high-quality organization. That’s not to say I don’t miss being involved. But it’s all for the betterment of public service.”

Lowell and top administrators including Donna and Dana Hunter left the operation in June.

‘Amazing opportunity’

Matthew Skiffington, paramedic coordinator for Hunter’s, began the EMT training after a serious motorcycle accident 13 years ago. The EMTs at the scene became role models for a new career choice.

“I had some amazing people who helped save my life and that I work with now,” Skiffington said. “I became a paramedic. Several months ago, I asked to become part of the operations team. To get paid while doing this is an amazing opportunity.”

Training classes for EMTs were cancelled during the pandemic which contributed to the shortage of emergency workers. But since they’ve resumed, officials hope the new program will bring even more candidates into the health care field.

“If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s helping people more,”  Ferrarotti said.

Interested candidates may apply at:

mgodin@record-journal.com203-317-2255Twitter: @Cconnbiz

"It’s a newer concept and a first time for Hunter’s. We’re taking best practices on what we’ve done in the health care system and bringing them into the EMS world."

-Kevin Ferrarotti

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