LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan needs more emergency medical services workers and to help fill the gap, the Department of Health and Human Services has given out nearly $14 million in grants.

$6 million of that went out this week.

More than 400 paramedic students have already received tuition and wage assistance totaling $8 million and now 23 more grant recipients have been selected to receive the financial support they need until their training is complete.

“For them to take the step to further invest in EMS and EMS education is a wonderful wonderful  piece of news,” said Angela Madden, executive director of the Michigan Association of Ambulance Services.

Madden said the EMS staffing crisis has brought about crippling challenges for providers across the state, but that these state dollars are already helping the industry turn a new corner.

“This investment in the education of paramedics and EMT’s is absolutely having an immediate effect. There are people in school in areas of our state that were struggling more than others,” Madden said.

The grants range from $80,000 to $350,000 and include tuition and wage assistance, mileage reimbursement, tutoring services and childcare assistance. 

Madden believes the job of an EMS worker is more important than people realize.

“They provide quality healthcare in a mobile environment and without them it’s hard to say what some of the outcomes would be.”

Without these funds, Madden adds that the state could see areas that loose their EMS providers and they could eliminate access to care.

“We need to continue you to invest in EMS, we need to continue to increase our Medicaid reimbursement rates and our commercial reimbursement rates so that these agencies can continue to invest in their human capital and their people who save lives on the street every day,” she said.

Because of her passion for the EMS field and its workers Madden hopes people looking to help others will consider joining the force.

“If you are community minded, if you are service minded, if you want to help your neighbor every single day EMS is absolutely one of the most rewarding careers you can enter.”