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
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:
- Canine search and rescue
- Field trips
- EMS speakers and demonstrations
This picture slideshow from the 2015 Rescue Divas summer
camp provides a glimpse into its fun and interactive
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'
- 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
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
Continued funding is always the biggest challenge.
Mary 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, 2022
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub,
Rescue Divas EMT Recruitment [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at:
[Accessed 2 October 2023]
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