EMS Program can lead to rewarding career, good-paying jobs

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by Eric Jensen

Here’s the deal: earn a certificate or associate degree in Victoria College’s Emergency Medical Services Program, and then land a job in public service helping others.

Emergency medical technicians are trained to care for patients at the scene of an injury or sudden illness and while transporting patients by ambulance to the hospital. Paramedics provide more extensive pre-hospital care.

“This program attracts a lot of people who get personal satisfaction from helping others.”

Carl Voskamp, EMS Program Coordinator, said new students start with the Emergency Medical Technician course, called Basic Life Support.

“It’s more damage control than anything else,” Voskamp said of treatment offered by EMTs. “It’s keeping the situation from getting worse.”

Students taking the clinical EMT course gain 40 hours of hospital experience and 40 hours of EMS ride-alongs.

Voskamp emphasized that students in the ride-alongs aren’t part of the ambulance crew, but they do observe and assist in the patient assessment and management.

Once students complete the EMT courses, they are eligible for a basic certification and jobs earning $8 $10 an hour, he said, but paramedics start out in the $40,000-$42,000 range.

Students enrolled in the one-year paramedic program attend classes 14 hours a week and spend another 12 hours each week in clinical experiences or in ride-alongs.

But before students set foot in the classroom, they must first decide that the EMS Program is a good fit for them. Some enter the course and realize they are not cut out for it.

“You have to figure out what your calling is and if you enjoy it,” Voskamp said. “This program attracts a lot of people who get personal satisfaction from helping others.”

EMS is the medical transport industry and is made up of two components:

  1. The 9-1-1 component, in which people at home or at work will make the call for emergency medical care. EMS personnel who respond do the initial assessment, begin treatment, and prepare the patient for transportation to a medical facility.
  2. The interfacility transfer component moves people within the healthcare system, such as from one hospital to another.

“Not all ambulances are created equal,” Voskamp explained. “Some are basic life-support ambulances with two EMTs. Then there are the advanced life-support ambulances composed of paramedics offering a higher level of treatment and capabilities.”

“Our courses are designated to train ambulance attendants, but graduates are not limited to that,” Voskamp said. “They also prepare people to work in a non-ambulance environment,” such as in oilfield or construction sites, Voskamp said. These graduates work as first aid and safety personnel on site.

In addition to the coursework, students can take other courses such as anatomy and  physiology, English, technical writing, speech, and psychology to earn an associate degree in EMS and get a paramedic licensure. The associate degree increases the graduate’s job opportunities because it is required for some promotions.

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