SARANAC LAKE — Fresh on the heels of a successful first Emergency Medical Technician class in Saranac Lake this spring, North Country Community College will offer EMT training at all three of its campuses — Malone, Saranac Lake and Ticonderoga — this fall.
The college has worked in cooperation with the Mountain Lakes EMS Council to create an EMT training program in response to the Essex County Board of Supervisors, which has been concerned about a shortage in the number of emergency medical service workers in the region.
Twenty students enrolled in NCCC’s spring EMT class in Saranac Lake, including both traditional college-age students and non-traditional adults who live in the Tri-Lakes region. After completing their course requirements, they took the New York State EMT certification exam, recording a 94 percent pass rate, well above the state average rate of 82 percent.
The students who took the college’s first EMT class are all now working as volunteers or paid emergency medical professionals with local ambulance squads and emergency service agencies in the Tri-Lakes, according to Scott Harwood, who taught the college’s EMT course, serves as Franklin County’s EMS Coordinator and is the college’s Assistant Dean for Institutional Research & Computer Support.
“Even though it’s one class, adding 20 trained staff to our community EMS providers is a big gain for them,” Harwood said. “Many people in the region’s EMS community are aging out and retiring. If each agency can pick up a couple more volunteers or paid staff from every class we offer, that will help answer the need for EMS professionals that both Essex and Franklin counties are experiencing.”
Julie Harjung, president of the Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad, said her agency is facing a critical staffing shortage.
“We are actively trying to hire and have been for about year,” she said. “We need advanced life support providers, and you can’t be an advanced life support provider until you get the basic part done. And we’re not alone. This is happening all across the North Country, the state, and I would say the country – a lack of EMS providers.”
Students in the college’s EMT program are trained to handle, on their own or as part of a team, any emergency medical situation. The program includes 220 hours of coursework covering topics such as patient assessment, resuscitation, pharmacology, trauma and EMS operations.
“Becoming an EMT is a great way to help your neighbors and your community as a volunteer,”Harwood said. “The other side is employment. A lot of people start as volunteers and become paid employees. There’s a growing need for both volunteers and paid EMS professionals in the region. At any given time there are 6 to 8 paid positions open in Essex and Franklin counties.”
“I was really happy to hear that Scott was able to get the college involved with providing an annual class,” Harjung said. “We’ve already gained six EMTs from this last class as volunteers. Once they’ve proven they can handle themselves, then we can look at hiring one or more of them as paid staff.”
Registration is open now for the fall EMT classes in Malone, Saranac Lake and Ticonderoga, with course schedules and information available online at www.nccc.edu/EMS. Many of the classes are taught on weekday evenings to accommodate those who work during the day.
For additional information on the college’s EMT training program, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 518-354-5153.