Rescue Divas EMT Recruitment
- Need: Increased number of emergency medical technicians in rural northern Wisconsin.
- Intervention: Creation of a program, Rescue Divas, for middle school girls to spark interest in emergency medical services careers.
- Results: Post-participation results demonstrate the camp increases interest in an emergency medical services career.
Rescue Divas was created in 2014 to recruit future female EMTs, especially with the current shortage of emergency personnel in rural northern Wisconsin.
Since EMS is especially crucial for healthcare in rural areas, the decline from 3-4 new EMTs per year to a single EMT every several years is alarming. Dispatchers often have to call numerous communities before finding an EMS team that can respond to a call.
The standard EMS recruitment efforts are often geared to men, so the camp's focus is to expose middle school girls to the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a future emergency medicine career. For example, attendees learn First Aid training, CPR and AED use.
Funding for this program was originally provided by the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health (ORH). Subsequent sessions have been supported by the Northwest Wisconsin Area Health Education Center, Northwest Wisconsin CEP, Essentia Health, St. Luke's, Memorial Medical Center, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Lifelink III, Lake Superior Regional Trauma Advisory Council, Sawyer County Search & Rescue, Washburn Ambulance Service and other EMS providers along with many others in the community donating time and services.
During the camp experience, middle school girls (grades 6-8) from participating northwest Wisconsin rural schools learn about future volunteer positions and careers in emergency medicine through hands-on learning.
Rescue Divas lasts 5 days and is hosted at an area camp. Campers become certified in First Aid and CPR over the course of the week.
Other activities include:
- Rescue-themed games, such as an EMS obstacle course and EMS Pictionary
- Field trips
- EMS guest speakers
- EMS mural painting opportunity
- Search and rescue demonstration
- Helicopter training
- Emergency scenarios
This picture slideshow from the 2015 Rescue Divas summer camp provides a glimpse into its fun and interactive learning opportunities:
The campers' knowledge and comfort levels with emergency situations are evaluated through a pre- and post-assessment based on a scenario given by Rescue Divas. During the pre-camp assessment, the attendees have often been hesitant and unsure of themselves when presented with an unconscious patient. They needed to be directed in the most basic steps, such as calling 911.
The camp's post-assessment process has consistently revealed an increased assertiveness and confidence, with attendees also developing confidence demonstrated by mock emergency scenario participation.
Written evaluations completed on the last day of camp have also revealed that more campers admit interest in pursuing a career in EMS than before camp.
When asked what career interested them the most, campers' responses included:
- Registered Nurse (RN)
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
- Medical Assistant
- Police Officer/Detective
- Search & Rescue
- Flight Nurse
Rescue Divas participants are currently being tracked through an alumni Facebook page. Interactions with these students will continue throughout the rest of middle school, high school, and postsecondary education in order to assess how many girls enter careers in EMS or related fields.
Time constraints of camp volunteers and their schedules (especially those working in emergency services and law enforcement) were varied and inconsistent, making regularly scheduled meetings and work group times challenging.
Continued funding is always the biggest challenge.
In 2018, an implementation toolkit was published, Rescue Divas EMS Summer Camp for Girls.
Contact InformationMary Zinnecker, Project Director of Rescue Divas
Northwest Wisconsin CEP
715.682.9141 Ext. 105
Children and youth
Emergency medical services
Emergency medical technicians and paramedics
Health workforce pipeline
December 4, 2015
Date updated or reviewed
June 8, 2020
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2020. Rescue Divas EMT Recruitment [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/867 [Accessed 23 June 2021]
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.