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Illinois Teens Soon Could Start Helping EMTs

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Youngsters could get a jumpstart on becoming an emergency medical technician under legislation approved Friday by Illinois lawmakers.

The proposal would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to serve as apprentice first responders in order to help emergency medical technicians in understaffed rural areas of the state.

“This is about helping to provide manpower,” said Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, who sponsored the measure.

Along with providing emergency medical assistance alongside trained personnel, the program is designed to stir interest in young people to serve their communities. Ambulance service is spotty in many rural areas where volunteer first responders are often working out of town during the daylight hours.

“It will help us recruit future volunteers,” said Rep. Donald Moffitt, R-Gilson, who co-sponsored the legislation.

Sixteen- and 17-year-olds won’t be able to drive ambulances. The cut-off age for drivers will remain 18, he said.