Seven students are dual enrolled at WCCT and Bevill State Community College this semester. At the end of the semester, students will have the opportunity to take the National Registry EMT test and begin applying for jobs in the field.
After earning EMT status, students can continue to Bevill to earn their advanced EMT certification, after one more semester, and then Paramedic rank which requires three semesters of course work prior to testing.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to get a jump start on their career while still in high school.” Bevill State EMS Program Director Scott Karr said.
Next year, Karr hopes to be able to teach the basic EMT class in the fall and advanced EMT classes in the spring, meaning that graduating seniors would be just three semesters away from being Paramedics.
“We are so appreciative to Bevill State and Penne Motte for offering us this opportunity,” Deb Ellis, director of WCCT, said. “I’m really excited about it. It’s going to give a lot of our students the incentive and opportunity to enroll in college when they leave high school.”
Joe Acker, executive director of Birmingham Regional Emergency Medical Services System, which serves Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Walker and Winston Counties said the program is a step in the right direction because the industry is facing a shortage of educated, trained medical services personnel.
“We think what Bevill State is doing is 100 percent correct,” Acker said. “It’s great and we’re hoping other institutions in the state follow suit.”
That echoes what industry leaders are saying as well.
“We need this to happen,” David Waid, co-owner of Regional Paramedical Services, said. “Everybody says there are no jobs, but I’ve got jobs and nobody to hire.”
Karr also emphasized that the program is a good springboard for those interested in any medical field, not just paramedics.
“Even if they don’t plan to be a paramedic, this is a great step stool toward medical school, nursing or any health-related field,” Karr said. “It also gives them a good foundation in medical experience which is an advantage in interviews as a great lifelong skill and knowledge set for them.
Students in the program must maintain an overall B average, be mostly done with their exit exam requirements and be a senior in high school. The program was made possible by funds from the Workforce Investment Act and Workforce Development funding. This pays for the students’ tuition, fees, books and testing fees. The classes are taught by Bevill State Instructor and paramedic Josh Bankston at the WCCT campus.
Ellis said that students who will be seniors next year and are interested in the program should contact her at (205) 387-0561 or Kelli Adkins at (205) 387-0519.