A few months back, the Director of Nursing at the Faulkton Area Medical Center and the director of the Faulk County Ambulance Service, Tom Hericks, began a program to get EMT certification courses available to be taken over the internet.
“We started the class a few months ago and things have been progressing well,” Hericks said.
Hericks said that he has six students enrolled in this online class. Three are from Faulkton, two are from Groton and one is from Roscoe.
“As far as I know, all the students are doing well on the course work,” he said. “We’re pretty well into it now. The first practicum is coming up this weekend, the second and third of March. Tentatively now, the students will be able to take their final exam this coming May.”
Hericks said the the problems associated with recruiting, training and retaining rural ambulance crews have far from vanished. The Faulk County Ambulance is not alone in its struggles.
“With our limited budget, we cannot afford to pay full-time paramedics who we only send on approximately 70 per year,” he said. “That’s why we need certified volunteer EMT’s. That’s why this first test is so important because if this is successful, then this will be available statewide to anybody who would like to do the class, and it will help rural ambulance services. Anybody who’s struggling to maintain an ambulance service, like Faulkton is, will be able to use this for recruitment. Some ambulance services that have closed may even be able to fire back up again.”
Hericks said that others have also begun to use teleconference classes for EMT certification.
“That’s all fine and good, and has its place,” he said. “But an online course, I think, is better because there are no time restrictions. Even with the teleconference, you’ve got to attend class at a certain time at a certain place. With the online course, you can do your classwork anytime you have time. It allows self study; you can start at 8 a.m. or 2 a.m. if you’re having trouble sleeping. As long as you get your coursework done, your time is your own and that’s very important for people who live and work in a rural setting.”