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W.Va. Northern Community College gets $500K for EMT, paramedic training

WHEELING — Local fire and emergency departments now won’t need to send members out of the area to get emergency medical technician and paramedic training.

West Virginia Northern Community College announced Wednesday it has received a $500,000 grant from the West Virginia Community and Technical College System to offer EMT and paramedic training on all three of its campuses — Wheeling, New Martinsville and Weirton.

There are presently no regular programs of study for paramedics offered in the Northern Panhandle. Those aspiring to be paramedics had to travel to Pierpont Community and Technical College in Fairmont, or take a class at Belmont College in St. Clairsville when they were available.

The WVNCC EMT and paramedic programs have been supported by the City of Weirton Fire Department, Northern Panhandle Workforce Investment Board, Ohio County EMS, Valley Grove VFD, Hancock County Ambulance Service, Wheeling Fire Department, Hancock County 911 Center, City of Moundsville, Ohio County EMA, Brooke County EMS, Bethlehem Fire Department, WV Public Service Training-Wheeling WV, and many others, according to information provided by WVNCC.

Their data also show that in the past year, there have been over 950 job postings for these jobs in the three-state region that includes parts of West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The projected growth rate over the next 10 years is 12.6 percent, according to WVNCC.

WVNCC also conducted a survey of the local region that indicated a need of more than 50 additional EMTs and 30 to 40 paramedics annually.

According to the WVNCC research and survey of employers, paramedics earn $42,000 annually and EMTs make $32,000 each year on average.

The paramedic program is planned as non-credit career development training, but WVNCC plans to implement pathways from it to other credit programs. Those obtaining their paramedic certification — through WVNCC or elsewhere — are eligible to apply for the technical studies degree.

Students also will be able to transition from paramedic to registered nurse through an anticipated bridge program currently under development at WVNCC, he said. From there, bridge program completers could then transition to a bachelor’s degree in nursing through a statewide articulation agreement.

Phil Klein, WVNCC vice-president of economic and workforce development, said the first EMT training class actually began with the start of the spring semester.

“We had 12 applicants,” he said. “All are still enrolled and doing well in the program.”

Additional programs are scheduled for the summer and fall, and cost for the EMT program is $650.

The EMT program differs from the paramedic program in that it provides 165 hours of training — eight hours a day for five weeks. It covers basic life-support techniques, such as CPR and bandaging.

The paramedic program, meanwhile, will teach advanced life-support techniques to participants. It involved 1,000 hours of training over 14 months. During their training, participants will learn medication administration, how to diagnose such medical issues as heart attacks, and making critical care decisions.

The paramedic program is set to begin in August, with a cost of $3,999. Funding sources are available to reimburse the cost of EMT and paramedic training, according to Klein.

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