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Houghton Lake Ambulance Authority, Michigan Works! Region 7B Work to Close Gap on First Responder Shortages

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As every business experiences a staffing shortage, those in the EMT and Paramedic field know it’s especially hard to find qualified employees.

That’s why Michigan Works! Region 7B and Houghton Lake Ambulance Authority have teamed up to start a new apprenticeship program in the region.

“It’s not just the learning classroom portion, but it’s the hands on experience,” said Deputy Director of Houghton Lake Ambulance Authority Joe Rubino. “We will hire them as a licensed EMT as they have on the job training after their course and become licensed. We will provide on the job training in all the skills to reinforce the skills and classes that were taught in the class.”

Michigan Works! Region 7B says this is the first of its kind of apprenticeship in the region.

“We’ve been working with the career tech education programs to align apprenticeship trainings as well as some of the on-the-job pieces so that the education that the students get in the CTE programs fits into the actual apprenticeship,” said Michigan Works Region 7B Director of Business and Economic Services Pam O’Laughlin.

Rubino says in the past few years, it’s been hard to find people to fill positions at the ambulance authority.

“People know there’s ambulances out there, but they need to know what goes into being an EMT or Paramedic,” said Rubino. “With more apprenticeships being a hot topic now, and the availability for marketing the occupation, and allowing some of Michigan Works! dollars to reimburse the students when they are going through classes, and some funding for us to provide education for the students and employees, it will be a great asset for for all of us.”

Michigan Works! helps connect people interested in the program, whether they’re in high school or post college.

“All this together helps to build a talent pipeline for employers who set up these apprenticeships,” said O’Laughlin. “It’s a very exciting time to get apprenticeship set up with some of these employers.”

Funds from the Department of Labor and Michigan Works! will help pay for apprenticeships.

“They’re on the job working, putting into practice those things that they’re learning in a classroom,” said O’Laughlin. “It’s not waiting that four or five years before they get to apply it, they’re doing it right away.”

Rubino hopes to hire two EMTs and two Paramedics into their apprenticeship program.

“We’re hoping that not only will we get the staffing for us, but all our local agencies and surrounding areas to market this career and occupation,” he said.

Those interested in the apprenticeship program can contact Houghton Lake Ambulance Authority at 989-422-5260.