LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Paramedics play a critical role in the delivery of advanced patient care within our communities. Gundersen Health System is just one of many in the country that is dealing with a paramedic shortage. Gundersen Tri-State Ambulance (GTSA) Director, Darin Wendel, says, “Being an EMS provider, EMT or paramedic is not for everyone. There are some difficult days. I don’t think it’s a secret that we respond to some very difficult calls, often caring for people during some of their worst times.”

Gundersen’s solution to the shortage is a Paramedic Trainee Program with plenty of benefits. GTSA Operations Supervisor, Jaime Naber, says, “It is a fully funded program. We hire EMT on full time and it includes an educational program that will allow you to advance to the paramedic level for patient care. And it includes all of the expenses that go along with that educational program and the opportunity to continue working as an EMT here.”

Students will be paid to learn all there is to know about becoming a paramedic. Wendel explains, “They’ll come to us as EMTs, some of them very new EMTs, some of them with experience. So, they’ll have based knowledge of emergency medicine and then they’ll learn things in the paramedic curriculum. Cardiology, cardiac arrhythmias, how to treat those. Airway management, and advanced cardiac life support, and a slew of things that are all just the next level from EMT.”

Tri-State Ambulance officials say having a full staff of paramedics is crucial. Wendel says, “The paramedic is the highest level of pre-hospital care. So, it’s important that as an organization, we’re providing that to our essentially our customers. So, we want to make sure there’s enough of them out there to provide that level of care to our communities.”

According to Gundersen officials, the program will host 14 students and there are still 7 spots open. Registration is open until the end of November and the program will begin in February of 2024.