Gov. Jim Justice today unveiled new, state-of-the-art mobile ambulance simulators as part of his EMS WV: Answer the Call initiative, which is funding strategies that are bolstering the state’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workforce and equipping communities to better care for West Virginia citizens now and into the future. 

Funded through a portion of West Virginia’s allocation of CARES Act dollars, these five simulators will provide the state’s community and technical colleges and select training facilities the opportunity to take EMS education outside the classroom and expand training into rural and remote areas. The simulated ambulances are outfitted with high-fidelity mannequins, allowing students to experience intense, realistic environments that are impossible to simulate in the traditional classroom. 

“We are now ready to dispatch these simulated ambulances across the state, so that we can train even more West Virginians to work in these critical and rewarding careers,” Gov. Justice said. “Our EMS workers have always been absolute heroes. Whenever we need them, they are the first ones to run to the fire. But we need many, many more of them. These simulators will help more West Virginians get the training they need to be EMS professionals, and that will help ease the burden on our current EMS workforce – and ensure our citizens are safeguarded for years and years to come.” 

In December 2021, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia would allocate $10 million of its remaining CARES Act dollars to establish an Emergency Management Crisis Fund – providing resources to help first responders across the state. At the Governor’s direction, West Virginia’s Community and Technical College System (CTCS) has worked alongside legislators and EMS community partners to review current education and training opportunities for Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and paramedic careers, examine the gaps and needs, and form a strategy for expanding this critical workforce.

The ambulance simulators are being managed by HealthNet Aeromedical Services on behalf of CTCS. In addition to investing in the vehicles, the Governor’s strategy also includes developing no-cost EMT training, training around mental health, leadership, and geriatric EMS for professionals in these fields, and providing medic packs – large, sturdy bags containing essential EMS equipment and supplies – for every EMS worker in West Virginia. 

As part of today’s event, Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s Chancellor of Higher Education, presented the first medic pack to Darrin Crosier and Shiann Hossler, new Kanawha County EMTs who have already been trained through the Governor’s initiative. 

“I’m so thankful to be a part of something like this – to see tax dollars going to the betterment of West Virginians. We do this because we love West Virginia, and we love our communities,” Crosier said. “This training has helped me in so many ways. It gave me a career and great health benefits for myself, my wife, and my three children. This was very rewarding, and it taught me that I could learn again.” 

Calling the opportunity “life changing,” Hossler added, “I’m 23, and I now know what I’m going to be doing for the next 40 years. This opportunity will create providers everywhere – in rural areas and beyond. This will change not only my life, but the lives of so many West Virginians. And that is why we do this job.” 

The Governor’s initiative also includes a public relations campaign promoting EMS careers within the state. Built around the theme “Answer the Call,” this campaign was developed to help West Virginians seeking careers in these fields access the most up-to-date information, which can be found at https://www.emswv.com/.