N.C. EMS Agencies, Community Colleges Partner to Provide Internships for Paramedic Students
Star-News, Wilmington, N.C.
June 01—The Leland Fire/Rescue Department is one of many fire and EMS agencies in the Cape Fear region that work with community colleges to provide field experience to students.
Leland Fire Chief John Grimes said the department has worked with various colleges for years and provides a "field internship kind of environment" for the students.
In May Leland, which recently brought fire services under the town's umbrella, approved agreements with Lenoir Community College, Southeastern Community College and Cape Fear Community College regarding student participation with the Leland Fire/Rescue Department.
"While they're learning and developing their skills, they can come ride with our providers and get that experience," Grimes said.
Having the ability to provide real-life experience is "paramount" for any EMS program, said Chip Munna, director of the emergency medical science (EMS) program at Cape Fear Community College.
"You can't have an EMS program without contracted clinical sites that are willing to help your students," Munna said.
Munna said CFCC's two-year EMS program incorporates both classroom learning and shifts with Leland Fire/Rescue, Pender EMS and Fire, Brunswick County EMS and New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
Before hitting the road with fire and EMS, Munna said students spend their first semester learning EMT basics and practice things like inserting IVs on each other before moving on to real patients at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center emergency room.
Starting in the emergency room before working out of ambulances helps "bring students into the EMS world," Munna said, because students can work with real patients and have a nurse nearby to help and guide them.
"It's the same medicine, but it's a different environment," Munna said of EMS.
The goal of the program is to "create good paramedics," and Munna said every time students go out on shift, whether it's at the hospital or EMS, he tells them it's a job interview.
"You're testing them out, they're testing you out, you kind of get a feel for each other," Munna said. "Then hopefully at the end of two years you'll know where you're most likely going to be a good fit."
Grimes said by working with colleges to train students, "everybody gains."
"We're gaining because we're getting volunteers and we're being able to test drive some future full-time employees," he said.