Illinois State Senators Mike Halpin and Neil Anderson are working to create incentives to recruit much-needed emergency medical technicians in Illinois fire departments.

Senate Bill 1750 would require the board of trustees of a fire protection district to reimburse the mandatory training expenses of EMTs or paramedics who are employed by or under contract with the district, according to a state release. The mandatory training expenses would be covered by a state funded program.

State Sen. Mike Halpin on 4 The Record ( file photo)

“EMTs are critical to the safety and wellbeing of our communities,” said Halpin (D-Rock Island). “We hope to create incentives for individuals to pursue a career in emergency medical services and to help alleviate the shortage of EMTs in our fire departments. By reimbursing the mandatory training expenses for EMTs, we can make this career path more accessible and affordable for aspiring candidates and ensure that our fire departments have the necessary personnel to respond to emergencies.”

EMTs are essential first responders in emergency situations and are often the first point of contact for patients, the release said. However, many fire departments in Illinois are struggling to recruit and retain EMTs due to the high cost of training and certification.

Senate Bill 1750 would provide a much-needed incentive for candidates to pursue a career in emergency medical services and help ensure that fire departments have the necessary personnel to respond to emergencies and save lives, the release said.

State Sen. Neil Anderson is a veteran firefighter.

Sen. Anderson (R-Andalusia) — who has more than a decade of experience as a professional EMT, and firefighter — has signed on as a chief-co sponsor of the bill.

“When I became a firefighter more than 16 years ago, we had 200-300 people testing for 20 candidate positions,” Anderson said in the release. “Today, fire departments are struggling to find candidates as most departments have more vacancies than applications on file. This bill is another step in the right direction to help alleviate stress both small and large departments are facing when it comes to EMT shortfalls.”

Senate Bill 1750 has passed the Senate Local Government Committee and awaits further action before the full Senate.