Demanding program fills need

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By Pat Faherty

LECANTO — A popular program at the College of Central Florida prepares qualified candidates for a fast-paced, high-stress profession that can also be physically demanding.

Becoming a paramedic is the next career step for some emergency medical technicians. It is one of nine health science degrees and certificate programs at the college. EMTs and paramedics fall under emergency medical services

According to the college’s description, “the paramedic must be a confident leader who can accept the challenge and high degree of responsibility entailed in the position.”

It is a leadership position requiring advanced medical knowledge, interaction with patients, dispatchers and other emergency personnel and an ability to work under adverse conditions. They are often responsible for pre-hospital emergency care and have to make decisions on the fly.

It attracts people from all walks of life and a wide range of ages, according to CF instructor and graduate Benjamin Tyre, a lieutenant with Marion County Fire Rescue. 

He said the 13-month program has an 85 to 90 percent placement rate with graduates working in a variety of settings. But there is a large commitment to get there, he said, with hands-on training, lectures, labs and clinical hours in a hospital. Upon completion students can take the state exam.

“This class is as close to real as real can get,” he said. “It’s a full-time job. A student’s work day can be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. then 

2 p.m. to 6 p.m. plus required studying. “We have a lot of cutting-edge equipment,” he said, describing a patient simulator that can breathe, exhibit a pulse and accept IVs and injections. “And there’s a lot things we do trying to make it realistic.”

He noted the job is also physically demanding, whether working with heavy patients or working while bouncing down a country road in the back of ambulance.

“The demand for our graduates has been increasing,” he said. “When the economy went south the enrollment went through the roof — it’s still strong.”

The CF program was the recipient of 2011 EMS Educator of the Year Award from the State of Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services. For more information, visit the college website at www.cf.edu.