W.Va. statewide recruitment campaign gained over 600 new EMS personnel
The “EMS WV: Answer the Call” campaign launched last year saw an increase in EMTs, advanced EMTs and paramedics
By Charles Owens
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia gained 600 new emergency medical service workers over the past 12 months.
The EMS professionals were hired across the state in response to Gov. Jim Justice’s “EMS WV: Answer the Call” campaign. The initiative was launched last year by the Republican governor in response to a shortfall of emergency medical technicians in the state.
However, the situation has since improved, Justice said during his weekly administration briefing Wednesday.
From August 2022 to August 2023, the Mountain State gained 40 emergency medical responders, 465 emergency medical technicians, 91 advanced emergency medical technicians and 57 paramedics. In addition, Justice said testing for the National Registry Emergency Medical Technician has improved by as much as 21 percent for EMS instructors across the state.
“We know we had a shortfall of EMS folks,” Justice said. “We addressed that and got an absolute bump.”
Justice said the state’s EMS professionals are “heroes who always run to the fire.”
One of the goals of the campaign was to train more workers for the EMS field.
“They are few and far between, and this program continues to provide the resources and training to help develop more of them in our communities,” Justice said. “I am confident we will continue to grow this profession in our state, reduce the workload on our current workers, and safeguard the people of West Virginia for generations to come.”
Justice announced in December 2021 that he would allocate $10 million in remaining CARES Act dollars to grow the state’s EMS workforce. As part of the initiative, West Virginia’s Community and Technical College System worked alongside public and private ambulance services and fire departments to provide education and training opportunities for EMT and paramedic careers.
During his weekly briefing Wednesday, Justice thanked Dr. Cynthia Persily, incoming secretary of the West Virginia Department of Human Services, for her work on the EMS workforce expansion campaign. Those efforts included the deployment of state-of-the art mobile ambulance simulators that are being used across the state by community and technical colleges and training facilities to offer EMS training in rural areas.