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WVU Extension Service works to expand the state’s emergency response workforce

Student taking vital signs on simulator mannequin during EMT class

Access to trained emergency response personnel, particularly in West Virginia where rural areas are abundant, can be a matter of life and death. West Virginia University Extension Service Safety and Health Extension’s Shirley M. Kimble Training Center is working to remedy that situation by providing individuals with EMT training, which will help grow West Virginia’s future emergency response workforce.   

Through an extensive four-month EMT training program, 39 individuals will soon have the opportunity to be employed as certified EMTs — and, the chance to serve their local communities.  

Growing up in a rural community in Calhoun County, EMT student BJ Mowrey remembers the nearest fire department being 25 minutes away, and at that time, emergency medical services were nonexistent. She realized there was a dire need for timely access to medical care for those living in rural areas.

“I enrolled in the EMT program to become a part of something bigger,” Mowrey said. “Completing this training will allow me to become the face of compassion, helping the people in my community and state that need it most.”

Students enrolled in the program have completed 155 hours of classroom instruction that provided hands-on skill practice in areas such as airway management, patient assessment of both medical and trauma, and vital signs. Students practiced their skills on simulation mannequins, SimMan® and SimJunior®, both which replicate a life-like human body.

With the arrival of COVID-19, all face-to-face EMT classes were forced to be alternatively delivered. WVU Extension Service Safety and Health adjunct instructors Pam Thomas and Cindy Hart worked to transition the EMT classes to a virtual platform using Zoom so that students could continue their training. Keeping the health of students, instructors and evaluators in mind, proper guidelines are being implemented that will allow students to safely complete the final hands-on training, ambulance ride-alongs and the national registry written exam.

“As the recent pandemic has proven, health care workers and emergency responders are a vital component of keeping our citizens safe and protected,” Doug McDonald, WVU Extension Service Safety and Health Extension specialist and emergency care program coordinator, said. “With this training, individuals can confidently enter the workforce knowing that they are equipped with the skills and firsthand experience needed to carry out the emergency response duties needed in their communities.”

The Shirley M. Kimble Training Center offers continuing education for health care workers and basic and advanced training for emergency responders. With more than 400 affiliated and adjunct instructors, the center provides trainings on a wide range of health care-related topics, including basic and advanced life support; first aid and CPR; babysitting and safety training; emergency management response; basic and mining EMT; and ATV safety awareness.

To date, the Shirley M. Kimble Training Center has trained 83 individuals in emergency medical responders and 159 individuals to be EMTs. These trainings were conducted for a variety of entities including fire departments, 911 centers, power plants and technical education centers.

For more information about WVU Extension Service, visit or follow @WVUExtension on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. 



CONTACT: Lindsay Wiles
Communications Specialist, Sr.
WVU Extension Service