ESD2, PfISD Launch High School EMT Academy

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Six local high school students recently began their studies in the first–ever Emergency Medical Technician Academy partnership between Travis County Emergency Services District 2 (ESD2) and Pflugerville ISD.

The pilot program came to fruition with ESD2 offering it to all PfISD students involved in the Practicum in Health Science course. Seniors from Connally and Hendrickson high schools were accepted into the Academy’s initial class, which runs through June 5.  Instructors hope the program will increase ESD2’s ability to serve the local community.

“First and foremost, the ability to recruit and hire directly from our community is extremely important to us,” said ESD#2 Training Battalion Chief Nick Perkins. “You also get a candidate who is personally connected and vested in the community. We also want to be role models for these students, to show there are great jobs in public service.”

Students will spend a minimum of 48 hours working in a hospital emergency room and 60 hours of field internship on an ambulance. Those completing the academy will receive an EMT-Basic certification, the first of three EMT certifications available to paramedics. The others are advanced EMT and EMT-paramedic.

Classes will be held at ESD2’s Central Campus on E Pecan St, in three-hour blocks during high school “B” days.

With firefighters also entrusted with paramedic responsibilities, the course provides students an opportunity to begin careers in either field earlier than others, officials said.

“Pursuing the EMT-Basic certification while in high school lays the foundation for a future healthcare career,” said Ryan Merritt, PfISD Career and Technical Education director.

Johnna Rister, a Connally High School health science teacher overseeing the school’s involvement in the program, has worked as a paramedic since 1998 and is currently volunteering with the Bartlett Fire Department. She noted had she been involved in such a program while in high school, it would have increased her experience in the field by more than 10 years.

“If this had been available when I was in high school, you would be talking to a 33-year paramedic, instead of someone with 19 years experience,” Rister said. “It’s a great opportunity.”

ESD2 lends previous EMT academy experience to the joint venture, having had instructors leading an Austin ISD academy at LBJ High School in recent years. Program coordinator Eddie Walker, who is the Advanced Life Support Education Coordinator for ESD2, began in EMS in 1988 and has been an EMS instructor since 1993.

The EMT Academy represents the second PfISD/Travis County ESD No. 2 partnership recently forged. In March 2017, Hendrickson High School and ESD#2 officials announced the inaugural class of the HHS Fire Academy. Involving 18 high school juniors, the Fire Academy includes academic and practical skills components, and will culminate in June with testing led by the fire department.

“The EMT certification program and the Fire Academy are great examples of how partnerships benefit students and the community,” said Merritt.

ESD2 will share costs for the program with Pflugerville ISD, with students also picking up some of the expenses, including shots and fingerprinting.

Students in the inaugural class of the EMT Academy, and their respective campuses, are:

Connally High School

  • Michael Chavez, Jordan Ordogne

Hendrickson High School

  • Will Becker, Christiana Chittenden, Janie Hurt, Hannah Imhoff