Vermont’s Emergency Medical Services system is facing workforce shortages and capacity challenges that impact rural Vermonters’ access to timely and effective medical care. This is an issue for which there is no single or easy answer, but expanding medical training to community members can support the critical role played by EMS. As a health workforce development organization, the Vermont Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Network is prepared to help.

The Northern Vermont AHEC has provided CPR/AED and First Aid training to more than 1,000 young people in health career exploration programs. CPR/AED and First Aid training are designed to help community members recognize and appropriately respond to medical emergencies in the time it takes for EMS to arrive. When someone suffers sudden cardiac arrest, their chance of survival declines rapidly without CPR. However, according to the American Heart Association, immediate CPR can triple one’s chances of survival. Likewise, if an injury is bleeding severely, death can occur in as little as 5 minutes.  Bandaging, applying pressure, and applying a tourniquet are methods that can be taught in just one hour. When EMS response is too many minutes away, trained community members can make a difference.