Earn while you learn: Class studies for EMT license

Mar. 25—EFFINGHAM — Tyler Lindsey of Effingham didn't have the money to take college-level courses after graduating from Effingham High School in 2017. So, he recently jumped on an opportunity that would lead to earning him an EMT certification.

"I always wanted to be in emergency services and just really didn't have the money to go to college to get the degree to become an EMT," Lindsey said.

Lindsey is no stranger to responding to emergency situations. While he was living in Beecher City, he was a volunteer firefighter for the Tri-County Fire Protection District. He signed up for an on-call position with the Effingham Fire Department, however, he did not get a position because they were holding off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lindsey was one of several applicants selected for a "Earn While You Learn" program offered by Abbott EMS that would allow him to receive a paycheck while getting his EMT certification.


"I want to go as high as I can being an EMT then later on progress into a paramedic position," Lindsey said.

Lindsey isn't shy about admitting he would like the extra responsibility of being a paramedic.

"I love helping people," Lindsey said.

Lindsey found out about the "Earn While You Learn" program on Facebook and shared his findings with his younger sister, Kristin Lindsey of Effingham, a 2018 graduate from Effingham High School.

"I was in Health Occupations program in high school and I always knew I wanted to do something in the medical field," Kristin Lindsey said.

She talked to one of the paramedics at the hospital she was visiting and learned about some of the opportunities available in that job position. After her conversation, she realized that was the route she wanted to take.

"It kind of made me decide that was what I wanted to do," Lindsey said. "All of my family members had something to do with health care."

Four months ago Lindsey gave birth to her son, Owen, and thought the "Earn While You Learn" program might be the opportunity she was looking for to support him.

"I thought this would be a great opportunity. Because now that I have a son, he is my motivation and reason I am pushing myself to go through with this," Lindsey said.

Two weeks into the program Lindsey is impressed with it.

"The fact that we can come in and learn, then do hands on is great. We are getting paid to learn the curriculum," Lindsey said. "I am more of hands-on learner, so I'm excited."

The eight-week course allows them to receive their EMT certification while also giving them the opportunity to be an Abbott EMS employee.

"Once they received their national registry and get their state license, then they will be on one of the trucks as an EMT," Global Medical Response Regional Director Heather Morse said.

Abbott EMS is part of American Medical Response (AMR) and the organization Morse works for, Global Medical Response, is the parent company of AMR.

A trained EMT is hard to find in the current job market, according to Morse.

Morse said AMR started the "Earn While You Learn" program in Buffalo, New York, in 2018 for large metropolitan areas. Effingham is the first rural market to offer the "Earn While You Learn" program.

"We were fortunate to have St. Anthony's and Sarah Bush Lincoln as part of the selection process," Morse said about choosing the candidates to be a part of the program.

Jasmine Ballard, program coordinator of the Lake Land College paramedical services program, and Shirley Sherwood of Sarah Bush Lincoln, helped interview candidates for the program.

Morse was joined in the selection process by Jeff Bridges, Abbott EMS Effingham supervisor; Larry Thies, senior program director for Air Evac, an air ambulance service; and Global Medical Response Vice President Joe Grygeil.

"When they came in for an interview, they got to meet all of us," Morse said. "We had 59 applicants and we chose 10. We are very excited to have them a part of the Abbott EMS family."

Morse said they partner with Lake Land College in order to professionally present the program. Lake Land College then contracts professional instructors to teach the Abbott EMS EMT classes.

Joe Thies, a supervisor at Abbott, said the "Earn While You Learn" program is unusual.

"We are paying them to go to school," Thies said.

He said the first half of the day the new employees attend classes and the second part of the day they work with current Abbott EMS employees.

"They can only ride and observe live what is going on in the truck," Thies said.

"The eight-week program is a condensed program that would normally take a college semester," Thies said.

"Once the eight weeks are up, they are ready to rock and roll," Morse said. "We are planning a graduation ceremony."

Abbott employs 60 full-time and part-time employees.

Charles Mills can be reached at or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.