ROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times
In an effort to recruit more workers, officials with the Seward County EMS department have employed several tools over the years.
One of those tools is a program available through the Kansas State Board of EMS called the Education Incentive Grant.
The program allows licensed ambulance services in the state such as the local EMS to request funds in the form of grants to assist current and future employees’ funds in exchange for committed service to the operator of the service as the employees obtain degrees.
County commissioners approved allowing EMS Director John Ralston and Administrator April Warden to sign such an agreement for an application for one local student at Wednesday morning’s meeting.
Per the agreement, the employee would work for EMS for a period of two years once the degree is obtained. Ralston said the approved agreement is somewhat different than others done in the past, as it is for paramedic training rather than for EMT training.
“I’ve got a person who works for us full time who wanted to go to paramedic school and needs a little help with the educational cost,” he said. “I’m applying on their behalf.”
The amount Ralston is requesting from the EIG is for $5,110, and once approved, funds would be paid to the county, which would then act as a distribution point of the funds to the student along with paperwork documenting their fulfillment with the state and Ralston handling the paperwork.
“The student has already filled out all their paperwork, and I’ll have to sign it,” he said. “This will go to the State of Kansas, and once approved, they will send the money to me. It’ll go into our education incentive program, and as those costs come in, we will issue a check to offset some of those costs.”
The EIG program has been done in Seward County in the past for different levels of education in EMS. It has provided for some people the county would not have been able to employ simply because of a lack of training and certification.
Ralston said the program gives the department the opportunity to invest in people currently working with EMS to train to higher levels, with the state through the agreement paying for the training. The money the state uses for funding are a portion of moving violations and seat belt that are set aside to fund the distribution.
“The cost of this program’s going to be a little more than two times what the Education Incentive Grant is,” he said. “There’s quite an investment of educational dollars for these students because it is a two-year degree program. It won’t pay it all, but it will help.”