Starting next semester, Richmond County Schools will add EMT training to the slate of career and technical courses taught in high school.
The two new courses will make up the third offering in a trio of public-safety “academies” that also include Law and Justice, and Firefighter. All three allow students to be trained and certified in a career field when they leave high school.
“We’re sort of sticking our toes in the water on this,” Assistant Superintendent Jeff Maples said Monday. Enrollment the first semester likely will be low, but that will give the district some wiggle room in perfecting the curriculum.
At the end of the school year, Maples said, the district will promote the courses to eighth-graders planning their high school careers.
Maples presented the proposed additions to the school board last week, winning unanimous approval.
Chairman Wiley Mabe, a former volunteer firefighter, lauded the idea of shaping minds and bodies while they’re young.
“Youth is on your side” in such training, Mabe said, taking a bit of ribbing on his non-youthful demeanor. Students who begin training at 16 can be certified as emergency medical technicians as young as 18.
“This is a young person’s job,” affirmed Hamlet Fire Chief Calvin White, who wrote a letter of support to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to back Richmond County’s pitch for the courses. “Young men, young women, it’s their kind of job. It taxes your mind; it can be tough on your body.
“These young folks (will be) exposed to a different way of life,” he added. “It’s totally different from other kinds of jobs. (Being an EMT) exposes you … to a lot of bad things that sometimes happen.”
And some good things in bad circumstances: EMTs in training must learn how to deliver babies, as well as assess trauma, monitor vital signs, and handle bleeding and shock.
EMT Academy courses will follow a nationally approved curriculum. Students who pass will be able to apply for work in any county in any state, boosting their chances of hire if they become EMT-certified firefighters.
“EMTs have to be 18 years old to be certified,” White said. Before they reach that age, though, they can serve as volunteers.
“There’s always a shortage of EMTs,” he continued. “(Applications) have been down for the last several years.
“Once you get to be an EMT or an EMT firefighter, you can pretty much get a job anywhere in the state.”
Those who are certified may begin new careers, or use those careers as launching pads into other medical fields, such as paramedic training or nursing.
“I expect we’ll have some health science students interested in it,” said Sharon Johnson, director of career and technical education for the district. Seven such students recently completed training as certified nurses’ aides, meaning they can start work out of high school or parlay their training into entrance to another health field, working while they attend college.
“We’re hoping to serve everybody” by adding such courses, Johnson said — not just students intending to go to college. Such courses also will prepare them for the workforce and the military.
Students who begin such training but don’t complete it before high school graduation may transfer their coursework to other educational institutions.
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