Wake County Emergency Medical Services Looking for Next Generation of First Responders

Applications due by Sept. 30

Wake County EMS wants to give high school students interested in a career in emergency medical services a head start on their future. Applications are now being accepted for the Wake County EMS Cadet program.

Launched in 2020, the competitive-entry program gives students a close-up look at EMS training and emergency response through regular classroom instruction and EMS ride-alongs. While participation in the program will not make the cadet eligible for State of North Carolina EMT certification, it does give them a significant advantage when taking an EMT certification course.

“This is a great opportunity for students who are considering a career in emergency medical services,” said Commissioner Matt Calabria, who chairs the Board’s Public Safety Committee. “Cadets will get great instruction in the classroom and real, hands-on experience in the field. There’s no better way to find out if a future in EMS is for you.”

The 2023 program runs from January to December with cadets meeting from 6:30–8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Students can also schedule to ride along as an observer with ambulance crews as they respond to real-life emergency calls during their shifts.

The Cadet program is one way that Wake County EMS is working to create and build its talent pipeline by introducing youth to careers in EMS. Wake County EMS, like EMS providers around the country, is facing a staffing shortage and having to come up with creative solutions to that challenge.

“Getting people interested and involved in emergency medical services early helps ensure we have the paramedics and EMTs we need to serve residents in the future,” said Chris Colangelo, director of Wake County EMS.

The yearlong program is free, however, once accepted, cadets will need to purchase uniforms, which may run from $100 to $200. They’ll also need to take mandatory CPR training for a $30 fee. The application period runs through Sept. 30. Information on applying is available at wakegov.com/ems/cadets

Working with Wake County EMS
Wake County is taking new steps to recruit and retain the best and brightest emergency medical services personnel in the midst of the national staffing shortage, a higher demand for services and increased competition for employees.

In April, the Wake County Board of Commissioners approved a new market pay structure that increased the salaries of 84% of EMS staff by an average of 21%.

In addition to a competitive pay and benefits, Wake County EMS offers a recruitment bonus of up to $5,000 for paramedic positions, tuition reimbursement of up to $1,200 per year, and an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician position to help EMTs an opportunity to grow in their careers.

“By showing our staff that we value them and support them, we empower them to go out every day and do their jobs to the best of their ability,” Colangelo said.

Additional Opportunities
If the Cadet program isn’t the right fit, there are several other ways to get involved with Wake County EMS.

EMS Club is a free, yearlong interest club for high school and college students. Participants gain knowledge and skills on a new topic each month through demonstrations, lessons and games. EMS Club teaches participants learn life-saving skills in a fun environment.

EMS Summer Camp takes place in June and July and is free for kids ages 15-19. Campers explore the field of emergency medical services while learning about leadership, teamwork and pre-hospital healthcare contributions. The weeklong day camp provides extensive hands-on instruction on EMS equipment and procedures. It is a fun way to learn and practice the skills used daily to save lives and help people in need. Basic and Advanced camps are available.

WakeWorks® Apprenticeship Program is a partnership between Wake Tech and Wake County. It addresses the county's shortage of technical workers while giving students a unique opportunity to earn an income while learning new skills. The EMS apprenticeship teaches essential skills to stabilize and safely transport patients in emergency and non-emergency situations.

Wake County EMS Apprenticeship Program enables EMTs to work with Wake County EMS and complete their associate degree in EMS at no cost. Once they complete the apprenticeship program, participants in good standing may continue their EMS careers Wake County.

People interested learning more about Wake County EMS programs and careers can find more information at wakegov.com/ems or by reaching out to Brian Brooks, chief of community outreach, at brian.brooks@wake.gov or 919-856-6579.

Press Release