Mass. ambulance services offers 2 'earn as you learn' options for recruits

Cataldo Ambulance recruits can work as a wheelchair van driver during the day while attending an EMT class during non-work hours, or go through a 30-day "Rapid Response" course

Joseph Barrett
Wicked Local Metro, Needham, Mass.

SOMERVILLE, Mass. — Cataldo Ambulance has started a new accelerated training program to incentivize more people to become EMTs.

The "Earn as You Learn" program supports recruits by paying them an hourly wage while they attend training. All education and certification costs are covered by Cataldo.

Cataldo Ambulance is offering two
Cataldo Ambulance is offering two "earn as you learn" options for new recruits; recruits can work as a wheelchair van driver while attending EMT classes during non-work hours, or attend a 30-day "Rapid Response" course. (Photo/Cataldo Ambulance Facebook)

Dinah Olanoff, senior director of strategy and innovation at Cataldo, said there are two different options for participants to choose from.

The first option is to become employed by Cataldo as a wheelchair van driver during the day, while Cataldo covers the cost of training at an EMT class during non-work hours. The second is the "Rapid Response" program, a 30-day class that trains recruits in the field. Cataldo pays for all costs while participants are learning.

Training consists of doing transports, moving people from hospitals to rehabilitation centers, and learning how to manage people who are coronavirus-positive.

"They'll be doing any other thing an EMT would do," Olanoff said.

The recruits, or junior EMTs, are paired with a senior EMT during their field training. Olanoff said each partnership will always consist of one junior and one senior EMT.

The "Rapid Response" program ends with a certification test in which Cataldo allows recruits two tries to pass.

Afterwards, recruits are required to either work for Cataldo for two years or reimburse them the amount of approximately $1,500.

Olanoff describes the program as a great opportunity for participants to receive training and money right away, and said she wants EMS to be a career path for people.

Chief Operating Officer of Cataldo Kevin Turner said the program is very accessible for people in need of a new direction in life.

"EMS needs good people and we can support their transition by paying them the minute they walk in the door," Turner said.

Olanoff said Cataldo is still working on how to elevate EMS as a profession because employees aren't as visible as police officers or firefighters, and that the program can also serve as a segway to other professions like medical school or firefighting.

"It's a hard job. It's a very physical job and you're out with the public," Olanoff said. "We're constantly looking for recruits. It's a national thing."

One of Cataldo's recruits, Ian Helmick, said the program requires a lot of hard work, but that it will serve him well in the future.

"This is an amazing opportunity to learn high demand skills and receive fast experience in the field," Helmick said.

Olanoff said one good thing about the coronavirus pandemic is that it's brought a renewed respect to EMTs, and that healthcare providers are seeing their value because the process of transporting starts with EMS.

For more information on Cataldo's programs, reach out to human resources on the organization's website.

"We're doing it in a way where people can reach out," Olanoff said. "You get a chance to make a real difference in people's lives."


(c)2020 Wicked Local Metro, Needham, Mass.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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