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Volunteer EMTs sought at local agencies; training course to begin this fall

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In less than a month, Centralia College will be accepting enrollment into their EMT training program and only a limited number of spots are available.

Potential students must be at least 18, will need to have the sponsorship of a local emergency response agency, a high school diploma or equivalent, a valid driver’s license and a score of more than 80 on a COMPASS Reading Test. Those who do qualify will need to be at the school’s Technology Building Friday, Sept. 6, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to register for one of the 20 slots available for the course, which begins Oct. 8 and runs through Jan. 23.

What to expect from the class

The EMT training course will involve both traditional class work, such as tests and lectures, but will also physically-demanding labor such as loading a patient onto a stretcher or helping restock an ambulance. There will also be discussions about the considerable emotional toll working as an EMT can take on individuals and how to cope with such experiences.

The course will be taught be Lewis County Medic One’s own Kirk Johnston, a local paramedic as well as an adjunct instructor for the college. Johnston said he encourages all members of local fire districts and other firefighting agencies to become EMT certified because most such agencies are seeing a trend of calls requiring the expertise of a medic rather than a firefighter, and that cross-training would be beneficial for the longevity of these programs.

Those who successfully complete the course and become EMTs will help provide much-needed volunteer assistance to local agencies, some of whom are down to one EMT in light of other volunteers leaving the organization. Those who feel they could make a career out of emergency medical services can then go on to train as paramedics (an advanced class of EMT able to perform a wider range of tasks in the field) and could even turn such services into a career.

Johnston said, while it is fulfilling to see former patients walking around town knowing your medical training helped save their life, the training to advance to a paramedic is very difficult and an EMT technical course is a great way to find out of the profession is right for you.

For more information about the upcoming course, call Centralia College at (360) 736-9391 ext. 427 or 483 and ask for an information packet, which will include all necessary registration forms.

To contact Winlock’s Lewis County Fire District 15, call (360) 785-4221. To contact Toledo’s Lewis County Fire District 2, call (360) 864-2366. To contact Vader and Ryderood’s Lewis/Cowlitz Fire District 20, call (360) 295-0906. Some districts may have volunteer requirements outside what is required to attend the course, so be sure to ask.

Paramedics Kirk Johnston (foreground) and Kyle DePriest (background), of Lewis County Medic One, load a patient into their ambulance during a call in the Toledo area. Medic One works with other agencies in the area to provide emergency medical services, but the fire districts in Winlock, Toledo, Vader and Ryderwood are all in want of volunteer EMTs.

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