May 21, 2009


Emergency Medical Services – NACC Prepares You for a Rewarding Career

People’s lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics. They provide vital attention as they care for and transport the injured or sick to a medical facility.

National estimates indicate that the job market for emergency medical services is expected to grow by 20 percent within the next ten years. Formal training and certification are needed to become an EMT or Paramedic. If you are interested in becoming an EMT or Paramedic, Northeast Alabama Community College can provide you with the necessary training and help you get certified. If this field appeals to you, then check out the many possibilities that Northeast has to offer. It is a career with many rewards.

Current or past students in the EMS program at Northeast discussed their choices on entering the emergency medical services field.

Scot Westbrook of Fyffe and Ben West of Sylvania are both sophomores enrolled in the Paramedic program at Northeast, both work full-time at the Fort Payne Fire Department, and work as needed with the DeKalb Ambulance Service.

Westbrook explained that he enrolled in the Paramedic program because, “as time goes on, as an EMT, you realize that you can’t keep up with the amount and type of calls on the job that you get unless you receive further education. To be a fireman, you must have at least Basic EMT training. Being a paramedic is not required, but it limits you on the medical side when you go on a call and certain treatment is needed.”

“I realized early that as an EMT I needed to move forward and become a paramedic,” said West. “It’s an issue of responsibility. When someone calls for help, they want folks coming into their home that are well trained. For instance, if you have a heart attack, stroke, or a sick child, you want the people responding to be professional, at the top of their field. We want to help people by giving them the very best care and get them in better shape than we found them.”

“If you want to become an EMT or Paramedic, you need to know how rigorous and physical the training can be and that the medical side includes a lot of academics; but it’s all worth it,” said Westbrook.

West added, “You need to be dedicated to really want to do this. Once past the dedication stage, you need to become an EMT, and I suggest, work in the field for a while, then pursue the Paramedic program. As an EMT, you will know if this is the right career for you. As an EMT you will discover that you are limited in the range of help you can administer. There’s so much more you can do with the Paramedic training. And, to move up in your career, you need to go on and get your two-year Associate’s degree.”

“It’s convenient to attend, Northeast is only 15 minutes away,” said Westbrook. “Northeast has good facilities and good instructors.”

West agreed, “It’s so close to home with lots of experienced faculty in the field. Most importantly, you get lots of one of one time with instructors in learning practical skills.”

Future plans for Westbrook include “being a fireman until I am unable to be one. I want to finish my degree and hopefully return to teach here at the College. Working as a fireman/EMT can be monotonous at times, but the flexible schedule allows you to do others things.”

West, too, wants to continue working as a fireman. “It is my way of giving back to the community and to the College,” he said. “You work hard the 24 hours you are there, but you do have flexibility in your schedule.”

When did West know he had chosen the right field? “I worked a call where a girl was entrapped and was severely injured. It took a long time for us to extract her and she was conscious the whole time. Three months later, she came to the station to express her gratitude and to thank those of us who had helped her, who had stayed with her and reassured her. Seeing her be able to walk into the station after having undergone such an experience, well, that was my moment. It was early in my career; it made me want to train more and to be able to help others better. You see a lot of death and tragedy in this line of work, but that type of experience makes it all worthwhile.”

Wendy Arnold, a 2008 graduate of the NACC Paramedic program, stated, “Thanks to the knowledge and skills that I learned at NACC, a man’s life was saved and he is alive, well, and enjoying his family to this day.” She went on to explain that a man went into cardiac arrest at a ball game and thanks to quick action, CPR was begun while an AED was being prepared. He was defibrillated, intubated, and given cardiac drugs, all in less than 10 minutes. “The man’s family thanked the EMS team repeatedly,” said Arnold. Later that same evening, the patient himself was able to thank Arnold and her partner. He told them, “I hear I owe you my life.” Arnold acknowledged that this one patient made all the heartbreak she had gone through to become a paramedic, worth it.

Current EMT-Basic student, Pamela Chandler chose the program out of necessity for her family. She said, “Job security is a priority in a single parent home like mine. Emergency Medical Services is only one of the many jobs you know you can depend on to be there when others seem to vanish. I chose Northeast because I knew that the college offered a self-paced program, where I could go at whatever speed I needed, and still be home for my child. You do have to have a lot of self discipline and motivation to succeed in the self-paced program to finish at a certain time, but the good thing is you have great support from the program. All you have to do is use it. It is hard work and has to be taken very seriously but at the end of it all you will have a rewarding and secure job.”

For more information on a rewarding career as an EMT or Paramedic, contact Program Director Roger Wootten (pictured on the left, below) phone ext. 355, e-mail Summer semester registration is May 29.