News, Training

Rural/Metro Tennessee Launches Hiring, Training Initiative

Rural/Metro of East Tennessee announced Tuesday that it will add as many as 60 emergency personnel in an initiative in which it is footing the training costs, offering bonuses and taking other measures to put more emergency workers in the field.

Since Rural/Metro was acquired by Colorado-based American Medical Response (AMR), in October, AMR wants to boost Rural/Metro’s presence in the region, Chris Blach, Rural/Metro vice president of operations in Knox County, said Tuesday at a press event at the ambulance service provider’s West Knoxville headquarters.

“At the same time, we are seeing fewer people entering the EMS (emergency medical service) field,” he said. “What are we doing about it? Today we are announcing that we are offering a $15,000 signing bonus for all qualified paramedics and a $7,500 signing bonus for all qualified EMTs (emergency medical technicians).”



These bonuses will be offered through March 4, or until Rural/Metro has hired 60 EMTs and paramedics, Blach said. Rural/Metro also is paying for qualified students to take EMT training provided by Roane State Community College at the Rural/Metro headquarters at 10410 Gallows Point Drive. Forty two students are taking the course now.

Rural/Metro also has replaced some older ambulances with five new models, for a total investment of $500,000, Blach said.

The cost of training and an increasing level of expertise required to become an EMT have been discouraging people from getting into the field, Blach said. In Tennessee, becoming an EMT generally involves a semester-long course at a community college at a cost of about $3,500. Recently, state law has been changed to require advanced training that adds another semester and another $3,500 to the total.

Nicole Gunter, a Knox County resident enrolled in the Roane State Course at Rural/Metro, said she probably would try to get into emergency services even if Rural/Metro was not paying for her training, but she is grateful that it is.

“The help is absolutely wonderful,” she said. “It is providing people a much better chance to get into this than they would have if they had to pay out of pocket and get student loans and have that burden.”

Rural/Metro is paying for her basic EMT course under the stipulation that shes agree to work for the company for at least a year, Gunter said.

Gunter said she eventually would like to become a paramedic.

“The biggest thing is I want to help my community. I want to help people and be there for others. If I can be that little spark of hope for someone, then I would be absolutely satisfied,” she said.