EMT course sets a path for first responders, health care career candidates
Whether it’s a highway accident, a fall in the home, or a fire, Emergency Medical Technicians are first on the scene to administer life-saving care. This fall, a new cohort of future EMTs will begin classes at Seward County Community College — and early in 2019, they’ll be ready to staff ambulance calls.
Enrollment for the one-and-a-half semester program is open now, with classes meeting in the evenings, from 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, through February 2019. Students also attend three full-day sessions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on selected Saturdays.
The open-entry course does not require prerequisites or standardized tests prior to enrollment. Students earn 12 college credits, and prepare for both state and national EMT certification, which makes them eligible for employment. The majority of SCCC’s newly-minted EMTs stay in Southwest Kansas, but they can qualify to work anywhere in the nation through the national certification process.
Working as an EMT is a great stepping stone for students interested in health care, says SCCC Dean of Allied Health, Dr. Suzanne Campbell.
“EMT prepares a person for health care, particularly when they need a place to start,” she said. “The job involves a little bit of nursing and patient assessment, a little bit of respiratory therapy, with airway control — it’s a broad scope of areas.”
Campbell’s own daughter started her health services journey in this fashion.
“She became an EMT paramedic, earned her bachelor’s degree and is now on her way to becoming a nurse anesthetist,” Campbell said. “EMT is also a good starting point for people interested in emergency nursing. One of our nursing instructors, Judy Lathen, has that background, working as a flight nurse, providing pre-hospital care.”
The EMT class at Seward is not a prerequisite for the other Allied Health program tracks — nursing, surgical tech, medical lab tech, and respiratory therapy — but it offers an opportunity to get a taste of different areas in health care. It also serves as a resume-builder for competitive programs.
“For instance, in the nursing program, which has the most stringent point system for admittance, there is credit awarded for health care work,” Campbell noted.
EMT certification also provides a means to work and earn money as a student goes through long-term, more costly programs for other health care specialties. Campbell added that many EMTs often move to a variety of public service careers, including fire science, law enforcement, and agency management.
Instructor John Ralston is himself the director of Seward County Emergency Medical Services.
“He holds the highest level of emergency medicine certification and he is a registered nurse,” Campbell said. “He’s also got 20-plus years of experience and sits on one of the governing boards for EMT curriculum. He’s highly qualified and connected.”
Campbell said there’s still time for students to enroll for the class.
“If you’re calm in a crisis, and you want that knowledge and skill set that translates to other health care careers, this is a great place to start,” she said.