LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Twenty recruits were selected from more than 400 applicants to fill out the newest EMT recruit class for Louisville Metro EMS.

Metro EMS is understaffed, and announced the academy back in September to help fill the need.

The academy started Monday with paper work, rules and expectations. On Thursday, the recruits started learning basic EMT skills, including how to lift patients into ambulances or up a flight of stairs. These are techniques and tools they need to master to help the rest of their careers.

“Our patients are becoming larger and larger,” said Maj. Chris Lokits, who is leading this academy. “We’re making more and more calls. So we want to make sure we don’t injure the patient, but they also don’t injure themselves.”

Over the course of the academy, the EMTs will learn simple airway adjuncts and airway management techniques. They will also learn how to use an AED, provide oxygen, perform CPR, create a splint and administer a few medications.

In all, they must complete 168 hours of instruction and pass their tests before being certified by the Kentucky Board of EMS. Lokits hopes the students will be working as EMTs by the first week of March.

“In your time of need, when you’re having an emergency, you want to make sure there’s plenty of staff, that they’re well-trained and educated and know what they’re doing," hes aid. "When they respond to your emergency, that they take care of you. You’re counting on them. And we do that on a daily basis.”

The department is experiencing a shortage of EMTs and paramedics. This academy is expected to bring the department almost up to full staff.

“It’s a good thing for us to be able to increase our numbers internally,” Lokits said. “And it lets us shape these individuals into the employees we want them to be as well.”

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