Wake County is holding a graduation ceremony Monday night for its largest ever Emergency Services class.
"Getting these folks in the field now where they can make that clearance process so we can have more units on the road in the coming months, especially the snow and ice period, is definitely beneficial," said Wake County EMS Director Chris Colangelo.
It comes as the department faces an influx of calls. A report from the I-Team earlier this month highlighted the increase in requests the department has faced compared to previous years, stretching out staffing.
"We'll see less ambulances out of service due to staffing, so more ambulances on the road," said Colangelo.
The impact will be felt over the next couple months, as recruits finish up their rotations with field training officers.
"We're probably a year to 18 months out to truly be back to where we want to be," Colangelo explained.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners approved a pay raise for workers, and partnered with Wake County Public Schools and community colleges, expanded apprenticeships and connected with military pipelines to attract staffers.
"(We) want to be able to help anybody they can whenever they can. I grew up in a family that was very pro-civil service," said Mitchell Arildsen, one of the 52 new recruits.
Arildsen had worked in other departments, and noted the county's resources as a draw.
"To be able to get some of these medications that are in our protocol, some of the destinations we're allowed to transport to, like we have permission to transport a patient to a burn center. That's amazing. That's really important for patients who have large area burns. And that's something I didn't have access to some other places that I've worked, as well as some of the medications that are given us, so that we don't have to get you to the hospital to start medical care. We get to start that medical care right in the living room. Of course, we're going to take you to the hospital to get you evaluated by a physician and continue on with a care team who can spend more time with you. But that the doctors are going to start with, we're starting that 15, 20 minutes earlier. SO that way, we can get up from there," said Arildsen.
He also noted the lessons learned in the academy.
"We sat in lectures and took notes and presented things amongst each other. We participated in simulations with extremely realistic equipment and mannequins and even live patients when medications didn't need to be administered. So it was extremely real-world, and it was in a way for you to demonstrate what you learned during the didactic portion to say that I did learn what I need to be a Wake County paramedic, even though I am already a paramedic," Arildsen explained.
Monday's ceremony begins at 6:30 at A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in Raleigh.