Emergency medical technicians must complete more than 1,000 hours of additional training to become certified paramedics. Fulfilling the required hours, however, can be challenging for EMTs as they maintain a full-time work schedule.
“There’s a national shortage of paramedics and EMTs,” said Jeremy Vercouteren, Greenville County Emergency Medical Services director of administration. “We’ve had the hardest time with paramedics since it’s a lot more education than an EMT.”
To help its employees receive paramedic training in an efficient way, Greenville County EMS launched a year-long, hybrid paramedic training program in 2022. The in-house program was developed in partnership with Lowcountry EMS.
John Leblanc, the clinical education specialist for Greenville County EMS, said the program provides students with a more in-depth understanding of diagnosing medical emergencies. They also learn how to start an IV and administer common pre-hospital medications.
As a hybrid-style program, paramedic students complete online lectures at their own convenience. The program also consists of hands-on labs and hospital-based clinical rotations.
“Anybody who’s gone through paramedic school will tell you it’s incredibly challenging,” said Nick Barnhart, Greenville County EMT and paramedic student. “I think the way that they’ve set up this program has been the most conducive to living a relatively normal life while doing it.”
Van Browning, anesthesia director at Bon Secours St. Francis in Greenville, said a strong collaboration has been built while working with Greenville County EMS.
“They’re getting to come in and see how we operate in the hospital,” Browning said. “We’re getting a better understanding of how they operate in the field so there’s less time wasted when they roll through the emergency room doors to treat that patient. We’re working together more as a team versus two independent units.”
The program’s first cohort consisting of eight paramedic students will graduate at the end of August. Leblanc said the new class started online modules last month.
“We left it open to whatever employee was interested in the program,” Leblanc said. “This class looks about double the size of the last.”
Range of experience
- Emergency department
- Operating room
- Labor and delivery unit (including the neonatal intensive care unit)
- Catheterization lab
- Dialysis clinic