EMTs can train for free

Published 3:38 am Thursday, October 18, 2018

State’s new  reimbursement program offsets tuition costs

Local educators and first responders are hopeful a state tuition reimbursement program that went into effect this month will encourage more volunteers to earn EMT certification.

Beginning this month, the state is providing funding to the Alabama Community College System, the Alabama Fire College and the University of South Alabama to increase the number of licensed EMTs in Alabama by reimbursing members of the Alabama Association of Rescue Squads and members of the Alabama Association of Volunteer Fire Departments who earn a State of Alabama EMT license.

The Volunteer Rescue Squad Tuition Reimbursement Act of 2018 went into effect on October 1 and its purpose is to entice more volunteers to obtain lifesaving skills that can be used routinely in their communities.

LBW’s EMT and Paramedic Program Director Wayne Godwin said that no one has signed up for the program, but he expects people to start signing up for pre-registration on November 2.

“The act will cover basic EMS courses, which we offer here at LBW,” Godwin said. “I expect a lot of rescue squads to take advantage of this, but since they made it in effect in October and that is the middle of our semester, people are not able to sign up yet.”

Godwin said that he thinks the act will be a good thing for fire fighters and rescue squads.

“Anything is good for education,” Godwin said. “I think it will mostly be used in the northern part of the state, but I hope our volunteers here will take advantage of it. There are some guidelines that haven’t been completely ironed out, but once we start a new semester in the Spring we will see how it goes.”

Though most EMTs are known to be solely in an ambulance, Godwin said that they don’t have to be.

“Most people associate EMTs with guys riding around in ambulances,” Godwin said. “That’s not true, there is a wide variety of things that an EMT can do.”

Covington County Fire Association President Brandon Holland hopes that several of the firefighters in the county will take advantage of this opportunity.

“I think that this will appeal to a lot of the younger guys,” Holland said. “The guys that are already volunteers, but want to further their education by participating in something like this.”

Holland said that this would be a great opportunity for younger people who have their eyes set towards the medical field.

“If some of the younger guys want to go into the medical field this would be great for them,” Holland said. “They could continue on after getting their EMT license and get their paramedic degree and then go on and get their RN degree as well, and they can do that all within the county.”

There are 21 fire departments in Covington County, and 19 of those are 100 percent volunteer based, Holland said.

“I started out as a volunteer as well,” Holland said. “The need for volunteers is still great and if a medical career is what you’re interested in then we will gladly help you with that. Fire departments work hand in hand with the medical field, so it’s not that bad of a trade out.”

Tuition will be reimbursed when the student provides:

  • Documentation of successful completion of an accredited EMS program at the ACCS, AFC, or USA.
  • A valid State of Alabama ADPH EMT license.
  • National Registry of EMT’s card.
  • Student Tuition Reimbursement Program Agreement (Student Agreement.)
  • Disbursement must be requested within two years of entering into the Student Agreement (As a part of the Student Agreement the student must serve three years with an AARS or AAVFD member organization.)
  • Funds are not available for previously licensed students. This program applies to those who enter into the Student Agreement after October 1, 2018.
  • Certain limitations apply.

Anyone who is interested in more information should call an Alabama Community College, the University of South Alabama, or the Alabama Fire College for more details.