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'It's an honor and a privilege': Bell Ambulance working to diversify EMT workforce

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Posted at 4:54 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 10:43:45-04

MILWAUKEE — Alex Hines, 24, is an Emergency Medical Technician with Bell Ambulance. It’s a job he’s wanted since suffering a sudden, severe asthma attack as a kid. EMTs responded to his home to help him.

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“As a kid, you don’t know much and it’s scary,” Hines said. “You’re in the back of this big ambulance. There are all these contraptions, and you feel very sick. Those EMTs were so kind, and made it okay for me.”

Now, he’s that emergency responder for other Milwaukee kids.

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“It’s a beautiful thing,” Hines said. “Kids get a chance to see someone of color in the position to do great things. It’s an honor and a privilege at the same time.”

Hines became an EMT through Bell Ambulance’s Cadet Program, which provides anyone 17 and older with full-time employment, health benefits and free training.

“It’s all fully paid for, and each cadet that is employed with us gets paid an hourly wage for each hour they attend school, and every hour that they work supports shifts for us, that they would do while they’re in school until they become licensed,” said Brett Meyer, the Operations Coordinator for Bell Ambulance.

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Not only is it a way to attract more people to the field during a national EMT shortage, but it’s also an opportunity to make EMT training more accessible to everyone.

“This is a chance for people who would love to do this, but might not have the means to do it otherwise,” Meyer said.

Bell Ambulance will be recruiting at Milwaukee Public Schools, and in neighborhoods that are all too often forgotten. The company will be also setting up booths at summer festivals, including Milwaukee’s Juneteenth Day Parade and Celebration.

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“Creating a more diverse team of EMTs will benefit everyone,” Meyer said. “This is a job that is always needed, so let’s have a workforce that reflects everyone we serve.”

“I know when I arrive on a scene, I often find someone who’s the same color as you, feels more comfortable explaining in detail their health conditions and what they’ve been through,” Hines said. “It’s a comfort factor, and it’s important.”

For more information on Bell's program, click here.

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