By Associated Press - Saturday, February 27, 2021

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A Louisiana ambulance service and the Louisiana NAACP are joining to offer dozens of scholarships for emergency medical technician training in New Orleans, with plans to expand quickly around the state.

“We are grateful to partner with the NAACP to specifically reach out to the African American community to offer these scholarships,” said Richard Zuschlag, chairman and CEO of Acadian Ambulance Service.

The program will start with 40 slots in New Orleans at the National EMS Academy run by Acadian Ambulance Service and accredited by the South Louisiana Community College system.

Acadian spokesman Randall Mann said the employee-owned service hopes to quickly add another 100 or more scholarships in the Lake Charles, Houma, Baton Rouge and Alexandria areas. Tuition is about $2,000 for the 14-week online hybrid class, he said.

“People who are trained and gainfully employed are better able to care for themselves and their families. In doing so, they uplift their communities. This is a win/win for the whole state. And New Orleans is the best place to kick it off,” said Michael McClanahan, president of the Louisiana NAACP State Conference.

There is a nationwide shortage of EMTs and paramedics and Acadian is launching several initiatives to attract people who are interested in a career in EMS, the news release said.

Acadian said the next classes start April 1, and let students work while taking online classes.

Graduates who pass a national exam can become full-time EMTs. The average starting salary for an Acadian EMT is $35,000, and paramedics earn an average of $63,000 a year, the statement said. Acadian also has a program for EMTs wishing to attend paramedic school.

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