Time for an upgrade? The Emergency Medical Services program at Texas State Technical College in Abilene recently created a program that brings more opportunity to current and future students.
The EMS program now gives certified paramedics and emergency medical technicians college credit for some certifications they already have. The certifications are transferred toward earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Emergency Medical Services Paramedic to becoming licensed paramedics.
“We are offering an opportunity for students who already have some experience,” said Ronnie Pitts, an EMS instructor and the college’s statewide department chair. “We evaluate the certifications they have already obtained, and they can transfer those certifications toward our degree plan here at TSTC.”
To take advantage of the program’s credit by certification, a student must already be a certified EMT or paramedic.
“When these students graduate, they will have a college degree on top of all the previous certifications they already obtained to work in the field to be more marketable in their job hunt. It helps our students save time and money, and to increase their growth in the field,” Pitts said.
Pitts stated that students can save time because instead of having to retake the basic courses to be admitted into a paramedic program, TSTC will accept the Texas Department of State Health Services certifications as college credit after a student credit evaluation is completed along with a $25 fee per course that is transferred. Students are only required to take 15 hours, or 20 percent, of the degree plan at TSTC to earn the associate degree.
Randall Noe, a firefighter/paramedic with the Mineral Wells Fire Department, earned his certifications through another institution and was able to transfer all of his credits to TSTC.
“I want the degree because it can further your career,” Noe said. “I’m able to earn it online, so it doesn’t interfere with my work schedule much.”
This will be Noe’s first degree. He is expected to graduate in summer of 2019.
Zachary Henderson, a firefighter/paramedic with the Baytown Fire Department, earned his EMT basic certification at TSTC but his paramedic certification through a third party.
“My time at TSTC really helped me in the long run because it laid the foundation for other training,” Henderson said. “My goal is to become a teacher, and the degree is important to have because it gives me that option and the opportunity to go even further with my degree and get a bachelor’s.”
Henderson chose the program with TSTC because he can complete it online while still working in the Houston area. Henderson is expected to graduate with his associate degree in spring of 2019.
Once a student graduates from the program and passes the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam, he or she can work with emergency medical services, schools, hospitals or as safety officers.
TSTC’s EMS program is always accepting applications and hosts an information session every Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Industrial Technology Center at 2082 Quantum Loop in Abilene.
For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.
(BROWNWOOD) – Not all heroes wear capes, but some do arrive in big red fire trucks.
Three Brownwood firefighters, Ron Groom, John Hendrix and Justin Prince, volunteered to further their education and attend the Texas State Technical College Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program in Brownwood to become paramedics. It almost requires superhuman strength for them to maintain a full-time class schedule while being ready to fight fires and help save lives in their community.
“Any higher level of skill we can have is a benefit to the community. We usually are the first on scene, not always, but a majority of the time. So anything we can do to help is a benefit to everyone,” Groom, captain of the Brownwood Fire Department, said.
Firefighters in Texas are required to have training as basic emergency medical technicians. This is the first group from the Brownwood Fire Department to pursue paramedic licenses, the highest level for EMS responders.
“I, personally, and most firefighters want to be the best firefighters we can be. With our call volume being a majority of EMS, it’s essential that we have that training to be the best on those calls,” said Hendrix, who is a driver for the Brownwood Fire Department and a part-time firefighter with the Early Fire Department.
Besides providing a higher level of service for the community, becoming a paramedic offers an opportunity for promotion within a fire station and is a bonus when applying with other stations.
“For anyone in this field today, education is extremely important, whether it’s as a firefighter or in EMS,” Groom said. “To be in those higher-up or leadership roles, they’re asking for more education on top of having that paramedic license. So it’s important if you want to pursue that.”
According to projections by O*Net Online, Texas can expect increases in emergency medical technician and paramedic jobs of 20 percent and municipal firefighter jobs of 17 percent by 2026.
“There’s a huge need for first responders. Paramedics, especially in the Brownwood area, are in large demand. These guys are helping to fill a need in the community,” Stephanie Young, EMS instructor at TSTC, said.
Working in a smaller department has benefits because firefighters train in a variety of fields, but it also offers challenges.
“Just because it says ‘fire department’ doesn’t mean it’s just fire,” Prince, lieutenant with the Brownwood Fire Department, said. “We’re considered a jack-of-all-trades, so if they don’t know who to call, they call us. We need to be prepared.”
The Brownwood Fire Department encourages anyone interested in becoming a firefighter or entering an EMS field to visit the station or TSTC and ask questions.
Groom, Hendrix and Prince are expected to graduate in spring 2020. For more information on
Texas State Technical College, log on to tstc.edu.