EMS Offers Women New Opportunities

EMS Offers Women New Opportunities

By Marie Nordberg Feb 27, 2010

Women in EMS are no longer the novelty they were 20 years ago, but an all-female EMT-B class just might be a first.

In 2009, the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago (ICNC), The Eleanor Foundation and Superior Air Ground Ambulance Service, Inc. of Elmhurst, IL, joined forces to offer underemployed and unemployed women the education they would need to find a job or new career path.

ICNC is a small business development corporation that funds small businesses, offers educational opportunities and does job placement and pre-interviewing. The Eleanor Foundation is a research-driven public grantmaking fund that helps create conditions for working women to achieve sustained economic independence. After looking at a variety of industries to meet their goals, ICNC and The Eleanor Foundation settled on emergency medical services as a good fit. The result was a fully granted, all-female EMT-B class led by instructor Kelly Begley, CCEMT-P, an employee of Superior.

"The program was advertised on the radio, through The Eleanor Foundation and ICNC Foundation's websites and lots of word of mouth," Begley explains. "After submitting an application, the ladies were asked to come in for testing and interviews, which then determined whether or not they were accepted into the program. At base minimum, they had to be high school graduates or have a GED, had to be of legal age, and have clean criminal and driving records."

Once in the program, students were only allowed to miss two classes, had to maintain an 80% overall average and were not allowed to fail more than one major module test, says Begley. Failure to meet those requirements meant being dropped from the program. Because the course was grant-funded, the women were offered assistance in many ways, including financial management advice, childcare, housing and transportation. Classes were held one day a week for 8 hours, plus a one-night-a-week study session.

"It's pretty demanding," says Begley, "but it's a state-approved, certified, accredited class. Ethnic diversity was not a criteria, but we had a wide spectrum in that regard. The real goal was to offer these women new opportunities for employment and professional growth."

In November 2009, 29 women out of the original 45 graduated from the Illinois Department of Transportation-approved EMT basic course.

"First and foremost, this program is about education, but it also gave participants an opportunity for employment at completion, and the outlook for jobs for these ladies is very good," says Begley. "A good percentage of them are working for Superior, and others are looking for other EMS opportunities in fire departments, ERs or hospitals. Some of them were looking at this as a steppingstone for further education and becoming PAs or RNs."

Without an education, Begley says, it's nearly impossible to earn enough to become self-sufficient. This program gave these women, some of whom are single mothers, an opportunity to invest in their own education and purse a new career without any financial burden.

Women bring an interesting dynamic to EMS, says Begley, with traits that are so compatible with emergency care, such as compassion, diplomacy, nurturing natures, listening to others, problem-solving and developing consensus.

Continue Reading

"When I first started in EMS, it wasn't a common thing for women to be employed and functioning. Women were around, but not as many as we have today, and it was a great opportunity for me to offer this class. Our profession continues to face a multitude of challenges, and we would be wise to maximize the skills and talents of women."

For more information go to http://www.eleanorfoundation.org, www.industrialcouncil.com or www.superiorambulance.com. Kelly Begley can be reached at KBegley@Superiorambulance.com.

 

Trauma surgeons led the 'Train the Trainers' class for first responders in response to the increased frequency of mass shootings.
The March 31st, 2018 event is a nation-wide, free course on the principles of bleeding control and providing first aid until the arrival of emergency responders.
The school district placed first aid to-go kits in every classroom in the event of a shooting or traumatic injury.
The Polk State College Foundation received over $4K to purchase trauma mannequins for simulation training.
Copiah-Lincoln Community College is instituting an EMT/paramedic program to address the shortage of EMTs in the region.
After four of five overdose patients were revived by family members with Narcan, Leech Lake EMS decided the whole community should know how to administer the life-saving drug.
U.S., Canadian efforts give systems solid bases for practice. 
After a number of local meth lab incidents, 75 firefighters attended the "Clandestine Lab Awareness" class to be aware of precarious red flags in meth lab settings.
Grants will be awarded to 10 volunteer departments to help with training their crew members.
Local residents learned how to stop the bleed from a firefighter, nurse, and civilian Doug Reynolds, who aims to launch a nonprofit called Bystanders Response.
FEMA's CDP announced today that the Center will resume using nerve agents and biologicals in some of its hazardous materials training courses on Jan. 11.  
The Emergency Medical Services Explorer Program offers young adults training and mentorships who are interested in working in the medical field.
Firefighters practiced water rescues at Hingham Harbor where the water was covered in 10 inches of ice.
EMS culture must move away from the idea that checklists are a crutch.
Missing data may hold the key to deciphering a discouraging finding.