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Medical milestone: five graduate new program

AHOSKIE – Five students graduated Monday from the Emergency Medical Technician, Basic Program (EMT) at Roanoke Chowan Community College (RCCC).

RCCC

is no stranger to the EMT program; providing instruction for over 25 years, according to Fred Curley, director of fire, EMS and law enforcement training.

However, this class was the first in the history of the program to graduate in six weeks, instead of the usual seven months. This accelerated class met Mondays- Fridays for six hours a day, as opposed to the seven month class, which met two night a week for a couple of hours.

Dr. Ralph Soney, president of RCCC, said the idea for the class was born when Hertford County Commissioner DuPont Davis expressed concern about the EMT status in Hertford County.

Davis, who was the speaker for the graduation, encouraged those present to help people who are less fortunate than they are.

“I get sentimental when I think about helping people,” he said. “This is what the program is all about.”

He also said that everyone needs a helping hand at some point in time.

“Let’s not forget from whence we came,” he said. “Reach back and extend a helping hand.”

William Babb, EMT Instructor at RCCC, said 10 students started out in the class and five graduated. Those completing the program were Tameisha Capehart, Tiffany Melton, Carla Cooper, Deidra Green and Zachary Moricle.

Capehart, a nursing assistant, said she wanted to take the class because she likes to help people. She said the class was hard because she had to read and study a lot.

She added that her motivation to finish the class was her daughter.

“I thought about my daughter and I kept on,” she said. “I told myself that I had to do this.”

Melton, who has been a nursing assistant since 2002 and a CPR instructor for a year, said the class was competitive, but she enjoyed it.

“We had great instructors; they were willing to work with us and make sure we understood the material,” she said. “It was a lot of hands- on teaching.”

Melton wants to continue with her training, become a paramedic and, eventually, a flight nurse.

“I like working in the medical field and I like what I do,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

Cooper said she wanted to become an EMT in order to help her community and to help others in need of EMS care.

“The class was a good experience and I had good teachers,” she said. “It was hands- on, not just lecture.”

Cooper said she was motivated to finish the class because she knew it was the first six-week class and it meant a lot to the school and to the teachers who gave up their summer in order to instruct them.

Green, a Certified Nursing Assistant, said she wanted to take the class because she loves to help people.

“The class was great and the teachers were great,” she said.

She mentioned that the instructors’ teaching styles were very effective.

“They have us examples and Mr. Babb referred to his military experiences,” she said.

Green added that she thought she actually preferred the six week class over the seven month course.

“It was easier to retain the information in six weeks,” she said. “I think I would get bored in the seven month class.”

Babb discussed the challenges and benefits of the condensed class.

“They had to study and had to stay in the books; we covered a chapter a day in this course,” said Babb. “However, there were many benefits to this class because the students got the information at one time, day to day with no gaps.”

Babb mentioned that the state requires EMT students to have a 70 average in order to pass the course, but RCCC requires an 80 percent to pass. He said that the students have a better chance of passing the state exam if they score higher in the class.

Dr. Soney said the program is a hard one.

“Most people who take this exam don’t do well, but our pass rate was significantly higher than it normally is,” he said.

Babb echoed these statements when he said, “Each student put forth effort and did a great job.”

Curley said an accelerated class such as this one takes dedication.

“These students had to reschedule their entire lives around the class,” he said. “It was very involved.”

He added that the students worked hard and deserved recognition.

According to Curley, in order to be certified EMTs, the graduates must now pass the state administered 100 question test.

Curley also said that paramedics and EMTs are especially important in rural environments that are far away from trauma hospitals.

Walter Dorsey, the Region Q work development coordinator, said the class was a true collaboration among all of the partners.

“The board looks at training opportunities and jobs that are in high demand and EMT jobs are in high demand,” he said. “I challenge those who have finished this class to go to the next level of training and continue to the next level and grow.

If you are not growing, you are falling backward.

Starting in September, RCCC will offer a 22- month EMT basic bridge to paramedic class. The class will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6- 9 p.m. All individuals who take this class must be certified EMTs.

Anita McDuffie, who has been a paramedic for 15 years, and her husband Rob, a paramedic for 20 years, will be instructing the class.

“Paramedics do a lot,” said Anita. “It is like an emergency room in the back of a truck.”

Anita said people interested in taking the class should call RCCC and pre- register. Those who register must take math and reading competency classes.

She added that eight people have already registered for the class.

“We hope to have enough of a turnout to start another class at the same time,” she said.

According to Anita, the unique aspect about this particular type of class is that when the students have 500 hours of course credit, they can test for the intermediate level. This allows the students to work for a rescue squad at the intermediate level while still in school.

She also added that the clinical hours required of the class allow the students to spend time in hospital emergency rooms and ride in the ambulance. She said these clinical hours help the students gain skills in a controlled setting and prepare them to actually work on a patient in an ambulance.

“I enjoy being a paramedic because I enjoy the challenge and I enjoy helping people,” she said. “It’s very rewarding; you get hooked.”

She added that she is looking forward to the class.

“We give the training for services people hope they never have to use, but are very glad we are here,” she concluded.