Accomack County struggling to fill EMT positions

February 17, 2022

Chief Human Resource Officer Kathy Carmody updated the Board of Supervisors on the County’s efforts to fill EMT jobs Wednesday evening.

Carmody told the Board that the process of recruiting, training and preparing new EMT recruits is a long one.   It takes over a year to attract and  train applicants to the point they can join the EMS staff.  She also explained that after advertising for applicants only 42% of those who apply are able to become EMTs. Some either drop out or are no shows, others go through the classroom and training process but fail the test.  She also said that during the last session, two of the trainees that were offered employment declined after going through the process. All efforts are made to give anyone who fails the first test the opportunity to take it again after receiving additional help.

Carmody said that there is also a problem retaining existing employees.

Supervisor Robert Crockett asked to have staff research other counties around us and find out how they schedule and what they pay so that the Board might have that information available.

It was also discussed that the County tried to institute a program in conjunction with the school system to offer basic classes and to prepare high school seniors for a career as an EMT with training classes held at the Community College. They found an instructor but that individual wanted to teach the course at the Machipongo School in Northampton County. The project got delayed because residents of Chincoteague and northern Accomack County would have almost an hour commute to get to class.  Then the pandemic hit and disrupted the school system.  It is hoped that program can be regenerated which, if successful, would provide a pipeline of qualified candidates.

Crockett said that there aren’t that many opportunities for someone with a high school education to walk into a $31,000 per year job.

Supervisor Renita Major said that currently every county agency and many businesses are finding it difficult recruit employees.

The Board requested staff prepare a report for them to consider at the next meeting.

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