Responding to critical need, West Virginia trains to become paramedics

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MONONGAH, W.Va. (AP) – The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many medical systems to the brink of collapse, but one of the most understaffed positions in this chain of care is that of medical technicians. ’emergency.

West Virginia Public Service Training is a state program that trains more than 45,000 first responders each year in West Virginia. Trainers travel statewide to different counties to run affordable courses that help residents achieve certifications in specific areas.

Recently, the Monongah Volunteer Fire Department consisted of around 12 potential EMTs, ready to participate in the state’s 155-hour program to put participants on track to achieve certification.


“We have courses like this year round for firefighters, EMS vendors … we do all of that stuff,” said Brian Potter, Public Service Training instructor. “We do various courses on hazardous materials, first aid, CPR, we do all of that. “

EMT courses are among the most rigorous in the repertoire, requiring a commitment of around 155 hours of classroom instruction, although the hours can vary depending on how the commutes go, according to Potter. On a walk, students put their training into practice and watch the professionals do their work. Once a participant has completed the courses, they can take the national registry exam for EMT and can become a nationally registered EMT, and then they can apply for state certification.

All that is required of participants is a payment of $ 300 for tuition, and to attend and pass weekly classes.

“It’s a job that is always needed,” said course instructor Randy Corbin. “A lot of paramedics (paramedics) become paramedics, doctors and nurses and move elsewhere in the medical field and COVID has hurt our numbers.”

Across the country, the pandemic has shown a need for medical providers, but this need is even more apparent in rural communities. In Marion County alone, it can take up to 30 minutes to get to a hospital from rural parts of the county.

According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, easy access to trauma care is directly affected by population density and said: “Overall, rurality was associated with significantly lower access to care. trauma. ”

In the study, it was found that 57% of rural residents do not have access to critical trauma care while driving or flying within 60 minutes.

“While the majority of the United States has access to trauma care within an hour, nearly 30 million US residents do not have access,” the study said.

One of the benefits of offering these courses to rural communities, such as Monongah, is that people in emergency situations can be quickly taken care of in those areas far from an emergency room.

“We need to get these really sick patients to the hospital as quickly and safely as possible,” Corbin said. “To do this, we need paramedics who can assess, diagnose and start treatment before they get to the hospital.”

But it’s not just paramedics that are needed – all emergency services, especially volunteer services, need residents who are ready to respond.

“Every community needs people to volunteer in emergency departments, I don’t think anyone is exempt in 2021,” Potter said. “In emergency situations it is essential that you have someone on the scene because this care could save lives. “


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