Ky. college partners with local public safety agencies to curb medic shortage

A partnership between Owensboro Community & Technical College, the Daviess County and Owensboro fire departments and AMR Ambulance formed to address a shortage of paramedics


Bobbie Hayse
Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.

OWENSBORO, Ky. — A partnership between Owensboro Community & Technical College, the Daviess County and Owensboro fire departments and AMR Ambulance has been established to address a shortage of paramedics locally.

The partnership will enable each organization to send current EMTs to OCTC for an accelerated paramedic training program. The first cohort of 12 students will begin in January.

During a virtual meeting Monday, Judge-Executive Al Mattingly said the four groups have come together in a unique capacity to provide more services for the community.

"Unfortunately, we are finding it harder and harder to find paramedics locally and all over the state," Mattingly said.

Also present during the meeting was OCTC President Scott Williams, AMR Ambulance Director of Operations Brian Short, Owensboro Fire Department Battalion Chief Colter Tate and Daviess County Fire Department Lt. Jake Cox.

Cox told the group the difference between an EMT and a paramedic is the difference in basic and advanced life support. EMTs provide basic life support, including CPR and assistance with a few medications. Paramedics provide a more advanced level of life support and are able to administer more medications.

There is a "huge educational gap between EMT and paramedics," Cox said.

Tate said OFD is hoping this program can increase the number of paramedics in the community, which would ensure more first-responders can provide advanced life support.

"Training more in house will help us achieve the goal of our program," Tate said, adding that paramedics provide an additional layer of support for the city. "It helps improve the quality of life."

OCTC has an accredited paramedic program by the Committee of Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Service Professions. It takes two years to complete

Students who go through the paramedic program must pass the national registry exam. The curricula meets paramedic instructional guidelines set forth by the National EMS Education Standards and the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services. Graduates are eligible to take the Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic (EMT-P) National Registry Examination.

The accelerated program will be one year, and students will attend classes during the spring, summer and fall semesters.

Williams said when the first departments and AMR Ambulance came to him with this plan, they wanted a program to help meet their needs. What the groups designed was a program to accelerate the process and allow the groups to do the training "in house," or in their own facilities with their own trainers.

"Because of that we could accelerate and still meet all the requirements that accreditors ask us to meet," he said. "We were able to work through that ... and put together a strong program."

He said this first cohort of students in the accelerated program is specifically for personnel with the city and county fire departments and AMR Ambulance. If the program is successful, OCTC is considering opening it up to the general public.

"This is the litmus test, our pilot program," he said. "We can see if we can do it in this model successfully."

Mattingly said OCTC "is doing exactly what we need a community college to do," which is put together the educational piece of programming specifically geared toward a current community need.

"As an elected official, we will all tell you that public safety is the nearest and dearest thing in our heart ... to make sure our citizens in this community are taken care of when they need help and services," he said. "I think this is just proving that."

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(c)2021 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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