MENTOR, Ohio — One northeast Ohio fire department is looking to high schools to generate interest in becoming an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). 

What You Need To Know

  • Mentor Fire Department partnered with schools to get seniors in EMT program early

  • Students can get EMT experience to take national registry test

  • Mentor Fire Department in need of more firefighters​

Students were performing CPR in the classroom, but it is something they may have to do in real life one day. 

Jake Smelcer is a senior at Mentor High School, and he’s one of about 12 students completing the Mentor Fire EMT Academy. It not only counts as a class to graduate but also gives him a head start in the field he's wanted to be in ever since he was a kid.

"I think most of us in here are very motivated,' he said. "We just want to help out the community, try to save some lives."

Deputy Chief Robert Evans, with the Mentor Fire Department, said they are having difficulties hiring firefighters.

"It’s turned out to be a recruiting nightmare for us, and some of the things we have done is reach out to the younger kids," he said.

The Mentor Fire Department is counting on the next generation to carry the torch. The department created a program that prepares students to take the national registry test to become an EMT.

Sam Kish is a graduate and said this program sealed the deal.

"The class that I graduated in this program was the first ever class in this program, and if I never got this opportunity, I don’t think I would be in the place I am," he said. "I may possibly would not have even been a firefighter."

The department looks to create a ripple effect in getting more interest in a field that desperately needs it.