GCC Leader in Training Public Safety Professionals

November 14, 2014

National leaders and area employers know Greenfield Community College’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Fire Science Technology (FST) programs are at the forefront of training public safety professionals. GCC-trained Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics consistently perform better on certification exams than the national average and are sought after by regional employers who know GCC EMS graduates are well-trained. This fall, GCC’s Fire Science Technology program was recognized by the National Fire Academy as a Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) college. FESHE is a collaborative partnership between higher education institutions, the National Fire Academy, and the United States Fire Administration. FESHE Recognition means GCC’s FST program’s curriculum, text books, course descriptions, and degree requirements conform to the high standards instituted by the FESHE collaborative. Along with receiving a degree from an institution recognized as achieving a higher standard, GCC FST students will receive a certificate from the National Fire Academy and have greater ease when transferring credits to other schools or having their credentials recognized by other states.

Emergency Medical Services providers must pass psychomotor and cognitive exams to be certified. For the past two years, 100% of GCC Basic EMT students have passed the national psychomotor exam. For the past three years, GCC Basic EMT students’ first time pass rate for the cognitive exam has been 80%, in comparison with a national average of 69%. For the past three years, GCC Paramedic students’ first time pass rate for the national certification cognitive exam has been 85%, in comparison with a national average of 72%. For the past five years, 88% of the students initially enrolled in the 20-month Paramedic program graduated and received a Paramedic Certificate. Most GCC-trained Paramedics are gainfully employed as Paramedics. GCC is the first location in western Massachusetts to offer the new national Paramedic psychomotor exam and people from throughout the northeast come to GCC to be tested.

Commenting on GCC’s Paramedic Program, Monty Ruff, Assistant Professor in the Paramedic Certificate Program,said, “Even though EMT stands for Emergency Medical ‘Technician,’ my mantra is that we’re not training students to be technicians, we’re training them to be clinicians. Clinicians have the ability to think critically and apply their knowledge in emergency medical situations. GCC’s EMS program teaches critical thinking along with the technical skills.”

The FESHE Recognition comes after a complete overhaul of GCC’s FST program to meet national standards. GCC continues its collaboration with Berkshire Community College so  students can take FESHE curriculum courses offered by either school. Many of GCC’s FST courses are taught online or in a hybrid on-site/online format to meet the needs of students, including full-time firefighters furthering their careers. Every semester GCC offers at least one fully online FESHE-recognized course.

Charles “Butch” Garrity, GCC FST Adjunct Faculty member and Deputy Chief of the Lanesborough Fire Department, said, “GCC should be proud to have achieved recognition as a FESHE institution providing the best for its students, instructors, and the fire and emergency medical services community.”

GCC’s EMS and FST Program Director Dawn Josefski said, “I appreciate the financial and programmatic support that GCC provides to the EMS and FST programs so we can implement the best education possible for EMS and FST personnel. Our high standard of education means our graduates can provide a high level of care to the public.”

Interim Dean of Professional Studies Kathy Vranos said, “GCC is extremely proud of the dedication and competence of Dawn Josefski, Monty Ruff, and all of the adjunct faculty as they lead these programs. Their commitment to high quality standards and training for students in the EMS and FST programs is exemplary and sets an extraordinary example of professionalism and teamwork for students in this field for the life of their careers.”

For information about GCC’s Emergency Medical Services and Fire Science Technology programs, contact Dawn Josefski at 413-775-1761 or josefski@gcc.mass.edu.

By Mary McClintock, ’82