Each year, Greenfield Community College educates approximately 75 emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and 25-30 paramedics who quickly become the most sought after emergency medical services (EMS) professionals in the area.
For many, GCC is really the only choice for their training. “Every paramedic that I spoke to about the possibility of upgrading to paramedic certification advised GCC as the best way to go,” says current student Keyanu Alvarado.
GCC offers two EMS tracks: a course for EMTs and a certificate program for paramedics, as well as continuing education classes. The EMT program is a onesemester, six-credit class (with a non-credit option) that prepares students to work for private or fire-based ambulance services or volunteer-based emergency services. The paramedic training is a 17-24 month program covering all aspects of advanced life support care and prepares graduates for any EMS setting.
GCC’s EMS programs have earned their reputation by providing a rigorous and holistic education with faculty-practitioners who are at the top of their field. EMS students train to a national standard and they are expected to maintain an 80% grade average. To enter the paramedic program, students must have at least 75 patient contacts as EMTs. During their training they will complete 300 hours in a hospital setting and another 300 hours as part of a paramedic crew.
The emphasis on professional behaviors, such as integrity, empathy, verbal communication skills, teamwork, and respect, also makes the GCC programs stand out, as does their focus on critical thinking. Additionally, the coursework requires students to deepen their sensitivity to diversity, especially to cultural and linguistic differences.
The GCC EMS faculty is the most important factor in the quality of the program.
In addition to teaching, all faculty members work in the field and stay up to date on paramedicine. “We’re constantly reevaluating the needs of our students and what challenges they will face in the field, and that’s what shapes the program,” says instructor Adam Hart, a decorated firefighter/paramedic in Wilbraham. Student Gianna Driscoll agrees: “The program does a great job of showing how far paramedicine has come and how far it’s really moving in the future.”
The college’s technology keeps GCC students on the cutting edge of paramedicine. They are trained in simulation labs that allow them to truly replicate the experience of being out in the field. This includes the use of simulation mannequins that can mimic many aspects of human physiology to make the experience as real as possible, allowing students to learn from their mistakes without endangering any lives.
GCC has been able to maintain their level of training excellence even through the Coronavirus quarantine, when it has been crucial to prepare more front-line responders. With careful safety procedures in place, EMS students have been one of the only groups of students allowed on campus to learn the hands-on skills they need.
The quality of the GCC programs are clear in the results they get. Nearly all students pass their certification exams, which is well above the national average. Further, nearly all graduates have jobs when they complete the program, often with the ambulance services with which they train. The key to their success is summed up by Associate Professor Monty Ruff: “Our goal is to instruct students to be academically successful while developing as individuals who will be positive role models and members of the communities they serve. Learning to be a paramedic is only the beginning of their lifelong growth as human beings and as EMS providers.”
LEARN HOW TO GET STARTED: gcc.mass.edu/ems or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (413) 775-1761.
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