Amid EMT & Paramedic Shortage, Vermont EMS Academy Offers Critical Training

The new Vermont EMS Academy facility opened last month 

NBC Universal, Inc.

A new center in southern Vermont aims to provide workforce development in a vital sector: emergency medical services.

"We’ve tried to set up an environment that is as close to reality as possible," said Marc Schauber, the program manager of the Vermont EMS Academy in Newfane, which opened in mid-October.

When NECN & NBC10 Boston visited VEMSA Thursday, students working toward certifications as critical care paramedics were participating in realistic simulations with scenarios that saw them stabilizing lifelike mannequin patients, starting transfusions, and getting them to a trauma center. 

The inside of the facility features a stationary ambulance on hydraulics to simulate moving down the road. Sound effects even create the ambiance of a busy hospital emergency department when students unload their mock patients to continue their training in an ER setting.

VEMSA is part of Rescue Inc., the nonprofit ambulance service based in Windham County.

As NECN & NBC10 Boston have reported, EMTs and paramedics are in short supply, after many retired or left the field, finding their skills can pay off in less stressful situations — especially with so many employers now competing for people with medical experience.

New England communities have expressed concern that shortages of EMTs or paramedics could slow response times in a medical emergency — when minutes, or even seconds, can really make a difference.

“That’s really the purpose of why we started this,” Schauber said of VEMSA. “To help with the workforce development, which we need locally, which the entire state of Vermont needs, the entire region, and in fact, the entire country.”

The academy plans broad outreach to schools and community groups, Schauber explained, to get young people interested in emergency medical services. VEMSA also offers a wide range of training and continuing education for professionals from around the region.

“It’s hard to find a place that does in-person test prep,” said Mike Clapp, a paramedic working to enter the critical care field who enrolled in a class at VEMSA this week. “And this one is actually a good balance of theory and practical application. So I’m pretty happy with this course. I shouldn’t say I’m ‘pretty happy’ — that’s an understatement. I’m very happy with this class.”

“One thing I always talk about with new EMTs coming in— you are one of the last professions that’s going to be welcomed into people’s home without question,” added Lacie Amos-Scheuer, another student in this week’s critical care paramedic course at VEMSA. “So it is a huge privilege and a huge opportunity to really see what needs are in your community. And also it’s a huge platform to bring in more resources, and education opportunities for yourself to just grow as a person and be a positive influence in that way.”

Students at the new Vermont EMS Academy told NECN & NBC10 Boston knowing they’ve helped others is one of the most rewarding parts of the job — and why they hope more people pursue this calling.

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