January Member of the Month

Michael Hunter
Deputy Chief EMS / Communications Supervisor

Michael J. Hunter, a veteran of EMS for more than 36 years, serves as Deputy Chief EMS for Worcester EMS at UMass Memorial Medical Center (UMMMC) University Campus in Worcester, Mass., where he has worked for more than 25 years. He began there as a staff paramedic and progressed through the ranks to EMS captain and then into his current position.

Worcester EMS (WEMS) is a hospital-based transport system and a division within UMMMC, the region's largest employer. UMMMC is a STEMI Center, Stroke Center and the region's only Level 1Trauma Center. Worcester EMS is a paramedic-only system, one of the state's few RSI services and the 911 EMS provider to the city of Worcester and neighboring town of Shrewsbury. Hunter also functions as a tactical paramedic (TP-C #77) for WEMS and is assigned to the Massachusetts State Police STOP Team medical support group.

Hunter began his career as an on-call firefighter and emergency medical technician. He graduated from The Vermont Paramedic Training Program in 1984 and has spent most of his paramedic career in hospital-based EMS programs. For the first eight years of his career, he worked on an ALS intercept vehicle, based out of a community hospital, serving 10 suburban towns.

He has served on the Massachusetts Committee of Trauma's Trauma Registry Sub-Committee and is an active member of the UMMHC Emergency Medicine/Trauma Committee. He was a co-investigator in UMMMC's involvement in the EMS TIPI-IS project, and the WEMS lead role in UMMMC's Field to Cardiac Cath Lab STEMI Project. He is active in regional disaster planning and a member of the Regional Medical Services Committee. Hunter was a founding member of the WEMS Honor Guard.

Hunter has long been a member of NAEMT and has been active in PHTLS since the late 1980s. He served as a member of the PHTLS Committee, as the North American PHTLS Coordinator, and was an active member of the PHTLS International Faculty. Hunter is a CONTOMS graduate and a member of their instructor cadre. He is also a charter member of the International Association of EMS Chiefs, a professional member of the National Association of EMS Physicians and the Special Operations Medical Association.

EMS agency name
Worcester EMS

Agency location/area served (City/State)
Worcester& Shrewsbury, MA

Service type: (Municipal, Private, Hospital, Volunteer)

Number of staff:
EMS Chief
Deputy Chief EMS
EMS Captains: 6
Paramedics: 91
EMT Communications Specialists:19
Support Staff:3
Fleet Mechanics:2

Annual call volume statistics (FY 2017)

  • 911 responses – 33.048
  • 911 transports – 24,587
  • ALS percentage of transports: 48%
  • BLS percentage of transports: 52%
  • Non-emergency transports: N/A

Population of coverage area: 218,542
Square mileage of coverage area: 60.27 square miles

Ambulance Fleet information

  • Number ambulances in fleet - 15
  • Maximum number of ALS ambulances in service - 8
  • Number of supervisory units - 4
  • Specialty units/resources – Training Van, Support Van, Incident Support Unit (Trailer), Medical Shelter Unit (Trailer), Mobile Training Unit Other: UMass Medical School EMS Fellow Physician Response Vehicle
  • Mobile Integrated Health Unit –

    WEMS has an active Tactical EMS group that provides statewide medical support for all Massachusetts State Police STOP Team missions.

    WEMS has a 24/7 Peer Support Team trained by, and working in conjunction with the clinical staff at Onsite Academy, a residential treatment facility for Police, Fire, EMS and Military stress management.

    Through our association with the UMass Medical School (UMMS), WEMS has a very active EMS Elective for medical students, both domestic and international.

    We frequently have UMMS medical students and Pharmacology PHD candidates riding on our ambulances. We also provide field internships for multiple, accredited paramedic training programs


    The WEMS Honor Guard proudly represents our agency at EMS events along the east coast including the Annual EMS Memorial Service, Parades and Funeral Details

    Numerous department members ride in, or provide support services to, the Muddy Angels EMS Bike Ride

    WEMS members, along with our Flight program and Communications Center members, voluntarily join the Worcester EMS Relief Association, a charitable, non-profit organization that supports its members and the local public safety community.

Agency challenges:

Like many other EMS specific agencies, employee retention is always a challenge. As a high volume, urban EMS agency, our well trained and experienced paramedics are desirable candidates for outside agencies.

Being hospital based is a blessing and a challenge. The medical education of our staff, and direct physician involvement and follow through is excellent as part of a healthcare system. The challenge is financial. We must justify our capital needs, and requests, through an institution wide approval process, often finding ourselves in direct competition with other hospital departments with legitimate needs.

Special projects/other:

WEMS is one of four EMS agencies in the Commonwealth that participate in a Special Project Waiver for Rapid Sequence Intubation.