WMFD looking for new recruits
Applications being taken now to join firefighter, EMT ranks
The West Memphis Fire Department is looking for qualified applicants to hire.
Assistant Chief Jeff Jones told city councilors on the fire commission that the department is eying late September for its standardized agility test to qualify applicants for consideration.
Chief Wayne Gately recounted his experience in the hiring process that lead up a career ladder all the way to the top spot and pointed to the inside track for aspiring firefighter/ EMT. He wanted to encourage prospective applicants to be persistent in making themselves hirable.
“When I was trying to get hired, I didn’t have EMT,” said Gately. “From the time I first started trying to get hired until I was hired was not quite three years. Finally the chief said Wayne, go get your EMT license and you’ll have a better chance. That’s what happened to me.”
Gately enrolled in ‘83 at the then vo-tech school that has grown up into ASUMid South. “I went two nights a week, four hours a night for six months to get my EMT license,” said Gately. “Then, I got hired.”
As part of maintaining its prized ISO Class 1 rating the fire department has structured the job as requiring both fire fighting and EMT certifications. The department actively recruits from the EMT training classes at Mid-South. Chris Brogdon, Chief of Emergency Medical Services sees to it personally.
While a lot of nursing students are in the class, the chief zero’s in on those with an EMT interest.
“I meet with every class,” said Brogdon.
For those that want onto the West Memphis Fire Department the class is a great place to begin training and get noticed. Brogdon also travels to Blytheville, Walnut Ridge, Jonesboro and Forrest City looking for recruits in EMT and medic classes often administering the exams. The EMT licensing process is two parts comprising of a written portion and a practical exam.
“So I know whether you are doing good on the exam,” said Brogdon. “And if you are doing good, I’ll talk to you afterwards. Just because you pass the class does not mean you can do the job,” said Brogdon.
“You still have to pass the national exam. Part of the class tuition is your first national written test.”
The city ambulances pack narcotics on board so a high level of trust must be established to get the job. A clean drug test goes a long way and background check are part of the process.
“The first night of class the instructor announces drug testing for students,” said Gately. “If there are 20 people in the room there are always two or three that get up and excuse themselves.”
Criminal background checks are also part of the pre-employment check.
“There is a state and national background check,” said Brogdon. “If there is anything on there, you not going to get it.”
“We have to be strict because
we carry narcotics on
the ambulances,” added Gately.
Scholarship programs are available for ASU-Mid South classes through Workforce on the north campus according to City Councilor Ramona Taylor.
Workforce is results oriented according to the councilwoman.
“They have to demonstrate job placement rates to keep their federal funding,” said Taylor, “They work hard to make a way through for those interested in the training.”
“There are two scholarships there,” said Chief Gately. “Crittenden EMS has a scholarship, and there is the Mac Holmes Scholarship.”
By John Rech