Local lawmaker sponsors bill to help train more EMTs


Hiring emergency medical technicians is a big problem locally and across the state, and that’s why a Sullivan County lawmaker says he has taken action.

Representative John Crawford sponsored a bill, recently passed in both the House and Senate, to help local ambulance services hire more EMTs.

The bill allows local ambulance services to teach in house basic EMT and advanced EMT classes. It’s something, right now, they’re not allowed to do. Crawford says that could help make it easier for hirees to get training and for companies to hire more medical technicians, in turn, decreasing wait times or even saving lives.

“Long distance transports, cardiac type of transports, ventilator transports,” those are some of the things that the owner of the Ambulance Service of Bristol, Wallace Elliot, says his company specializes in.

But they have a problem on their hands, one Elliott says isn’t specific to just his company.

“There’s just not enough EMTs,” said Elliott. “Certainly there are days and times that we need units that we just don’t have the people for.”

“I felt like there was a true need for the citizens out here because there’s no use of having these ambulances, meeting state certified, all of the qualifications, and not having people out there to run these ambulances,” Crawford said.

That’s why he sponsored a bill to address the problem, allowing local ambulance services to be able to teach basic EMT class and advanced EMT class in house. It’s training that new hirees, right now, have to get solely at universities or community colleges.

A big plus, if you ask Elliott.

“If you have one college that is providing their classes to 10 different services that are sending people, we all have different work schedules and rotations. I can set my class times at what best works for my employees,” Elliott said.

Making it more accessible, but more importantly, Crawford said, “Anytime we can get more ambulances out there, more trained people, I think the opportunity to be able to be a benefit to save lives or even just to provide response to people that need help.”

Basic EMT and advanced EMT are both steps to go through before becoming a paramedic. That is something that people would still need to attend a university or college class for.

Crawford says the bill right now only addresses five counties in Northeast Tennessee – Sullivan, Washington, Hawkins, Carter and Johnson.

Crawford is hoping to make it a statewide effort next legislative session.

The bill is right now sitting on the governor’s desk, waiting for his signature, and it will take effect once signed.

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