LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville will celebrate National EMS Week by lighting up the Big Four Bridge in blue and white. Many department leaders say EMS workers are the city’s forgotten heroes.

“They work long hours,” said LMEMS Maj. Erin Winter. “They work a lot of hours. And they do it without any recognition, with very little praise.”

There is a new academy of EMTs studying to join the department’s ranks. The class of 45 recruits started a few weeks ago and is expected to be welcome relief once they graduate.

“Our people are definitely tired,” Winter said. “If we can get all 45 of these through, it’ll be a huge, huge help.”

The department is understaffed and overworked. For years, paramedics and EMTs have been working overtime to make sure the city is covered every hour of the day.

According to department records, there are 10 open EMT positions and seven open paramedic positions. Those rates have been much higher in the past, but LMEMS has been holding multiple academies over the past couple years, helping to bring the department as close to full staff as possible.

This academy is larger than ones in the past. The recruits are also being paid at a higher rate than past academies. Department leaders hope this strategy will help prevent turnover in a very difficult, stressful field.

Over the next four months, the 45 recruits will study everything from anatomy to drugs, tools, skills and techniques. But Winter said Louisville’s academy is more than just book work and that these students will be prepared for the real world when they graduate.

“The state only requires them to ride 24 hours to get their certification,” Winter said. “But they’re going to ride for five weeks as part of the class.”

This current academy is expected hit the streets by Labor Day.

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