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Mercy Flights has been awarded $3 million in the second round of Future Ready Oregon Workforce Ready Grants to launch an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) apprenticeship program in Southern Oregon. Over the past nine months, Mercy Flights worked with community partners to create a program designed to expand and diversify the pool of EMS professionals in our region. The program will also address the forecasted healthcare workforce crisis focusing on Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics professionals.

The Higher Education Coordination Commission (HECC) recently awarded grants to 30 community organizations and workforce service providers to advance innovative and collaborative workforce development programs and partnerships. Approximately $35 million has been preliminarily awarded, making this the largest round of Future Ready Oregon grant funding to date.

Round two of the Workforce Ready Grants support education and training programs that center the needs of Oregon’s underserved and marginalized communities and connect individuals to the resources they need for good-paying jobs and meaningful careers in key sectors of Oregon’s economy—healthcare, manufacturing, and technology.

Sheila Clough, Mercy Flights, CEO states, “We spent the better part of 2023 laying the groundwork for the apprenticeship program by engaging with local emergency service partners to design an ‘earn while you learn model’, as well as invited area high schools, workforce agencies, and civic groups on informative tours with the goal of inspiring the next generation of EMS professionals. We also partnered with Rogue Community College to prepare an alignment between the educational and employment experience for future EMS apprentices. We are excited to be receiving this grant to be able to launch a pilot of our newly designed EMS Apprenticeship program.”

The apprenticeship program will focus on four pillars:

  • Inspire: We partner with high schools, community groups, and workforce partners to bring awareness to the many jobs available within the EMS field and encourage interested individuals to apply to become an EMS apprentice.
  • Employ: Mercy Flights and other EMS employer partners will hire apprentices while they are pursuing their EMT or Paramedic education and provide them with a livable wage and on-the-job training in preparation for their degree completion.
  • Educate: RCC will provide the apprentices with EMT and Paramedic education.
  • Support: The EMS apprenticeship program staff will provide support to assist the apprentices achieve their education goals.

The HECC second round of funding will allow Mercy Flights to launch a three-year pilot of the EMS apprenticeship program in Southern Oregon. The pilot objectives include inspiring historically under-represented and vulnerable community members to pursue an EMS education and career; increasing the number of healthcare professionals in the local workforce; and testing the “to learn” apprenticeship model.

To learn more about Mercy Flight please visit For more information on the Future Ready Oregon Program, please click HERE.