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National Paramedic Certification Expands Opportunities for Surry Community Graduates

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Paramedic graduates from Surry Community College are eligible to take a national certification test, which provides greater job opportunities and is especially helpful since the college is located near Virginia, a state that recognizes the national registry.

The Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Service Professions (CoAEMSP) approved SCC’s Paramedic program in 2018 for national status. Many of Surry’s paramedic graduates work in Virginia at the Carroll County Emergency Services.

“As the Emergency Services Director in Carroll County, out of my staff of 24 full-time employees, 10 of them have graduated from the Paramedic program at SCC,” said Everett Lineberry, who is a Surry graduate and a nationally certified paramedic.

Lineberry describes the importance of national registry to practice in Virginia.

“The NREMT (National Registry of EMTs) is an organization that provides a means for state certified paramedics to be able to cross state lines and obtain the certification elsewhere. Being in Virginia, this is crucial because it is the only way for a person to obtain a state paramedic certification. All persons who wish to become certified in Virginia must first possess the NREMT certificate before being state certified. The NREMT by itself does not provide any authority to function in any state, but it provides a way for paramedics to take their training to nearly every state in the country through reciprocity. The NREMT also provides rigorous testing for any prospective student wishing to become nationally registered. Passing the NREMT exams is just another affirmation that the student has the knowledge base necessary to do this work.”

Shane Moore is Shift Captain at the Forsyth County Emergency Services. Moore, a nationally certified paramedic, said many agencies such as his are requiring national registration for specialty teams and for career advancement.

“We do hire Surry medics. A lot of our people were already employed here as EMTs and then chose Surry for medic school. Over the last three years or so, approximately 25 to 30 were Surry graduates. We have 10 to 12 who have graduated, or are currently in the program, employed now,” he said.

Shellie Killgo of Pinnacle graduated from SCC’s Paramedic Program in May 2019 and is employed as a paramedic with Forsyth County EMS and is also the chief of the Shoals Fire Department. He passed the national paramedic exam.

“Now that I have that certification, I can go anywhere in the country and work where the national registry is recognized. I am originally from Georgia, and it is a national registry state,” Killgo said. “If we decided to move back to Georgia, all I have to do is show national registry and I can go to work down there.”

During the program at Surry, Killgo was involved in two large scale rescue simulations along with practicing skills regularly in the classroom.

Katherine_Perkins-Emergency_Simulation

As a paramedic student at Surry Community College, Katherine Perkins (left) assesses a “patient” during an emergency simulation that involved a child who was injured by a mower.

“I recommend Surry Community College every day. Surry’s program is a lot of hands-on work; they give you a lot of scenarios to work through,” he said.

Katherine Perkins of Winston-Salem is working as paramedic for Forsyth County EMS. She also graduated from SCC’s Paramedic Program in May 2019 and is a nationally certified paramedic.

“It allows me to move to another state in the future and function as a paramedic there,” she said. “At our job, it’s not required, but it’s recommended. And, I just think it’s good to have.”

Originally, she had planned to go to medical school and had gotten an EMT certification for college applications. Then, she fell in love with emergency medicine.

“I truly enjoy that I am allowed to make treatment decisions for patient care. That’s my favorite part,” she said. “It can be exciting, and you never really know what your next call is going to be. You have to be ready for everything. I absolutely recommend Surry Community College. Based on my experience and comparing others, Surry sounds like the best of the best. Surry’s program is very hands-on. They had us doing scenarios all the time.”

Employers look favorable at students who have achieved national certification. Dale Harold, Training Officer, of the Surry County EMS graduated from Surry’s Paramedic Program.

“At Surry County Emergency Services, we rely heavily on the Surry Community College graduates. I would estimate that about 85 percent of our employees are SCC paramedic graduates. SCC has a very intense paramedic program. By that I mean, nothing is given and everything is earned by the paramedic student,” he said.

Harold knows first-hand about Surry’s program as he is a graduate and a program instructor.

“SCC has one of the best EMS programs in the nation. The program has students who commute great distances to attend classes in the SCC EMS program. The students have access to a wealth of knowledgeable staff. They have adequate equipment and facilities that many EMS programs don’t have,” he said. “When they run scenarios for the students, typically it’s not in the classroom. The students will get on a training ambulance and actually respond to the scene. From there, the student is expected to run the scenario like an actual call. They load the patient, transport, and perform call-ins on the radio to a mock hospital. This type of simulation is valuable to EMS students. The students are also given many clinical educational experiences. From the dialysis centers, pediatric clinics, emergency department, labor/delivery, and the list goes on and on. Placing these students in these learning environments is crucial for education.”

Harold is a nationally certified paramedic.

“National Registry of EMTs has a very intense testing process that goes above the state standard. Not only must you complete a very hard computerized test, the student must complete a skill set that is very intense. Most people that you talk with who are NREMT certified will tell you they will never let their certification expire. Paramedic students put a lot of time and hard work into earning the NREMT paramedic certification.”

Justin King, Training Officer with the Stokes County EMS, is also nationally certified and has maintained the credential since 2013.

When a paramedic obtains their national certification, it means they have taken the time to go above and beyond to not only become a state certified paramedic, but be certified on the national level,” said King. “This means they have put time and effort into studying and going further with more testing. A nationally recognized paramedic must obtain 72 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their credential, whereas a state credential paramedic has to obtain 120 hours every four years. A national certification means continuous dedication and learning for the paramedic.”

Surry graduates help staff many positions at the Stokes County EMS.

“We currently have approximately 13 SCC graduates working either full-time or part time. SCC’s Paramedic Program graduates a well-rounded entry level paramedic. They have diverse knowledge in all areas of prehospital patient care and are prepared to start their career. The paramedics SCC produces are knowledgeable, critical thinkers, self-motivated, detail oriented, and are always a patient advocate,” he said. “I believe that the SCC Paramedic Program is one of the top programs in the state, and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in becoming a paramedic.”

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