GNTC Moves Emergency Medical Technician Program To Whitfield Murray Campus

  • Wednesday, February 21, 2024
GNTC Emergency Medical Technician students Violet Bazan (left) and Jaley Hibberts assess a manikin’s vital signs
GNTC Emergency Medical Technician students Violet Bazan (left) and Jaley Hibberts assess a manikin’s vital signs
Georgia Northwestern Technical College has transferred its Emergency Medical Technician program from the Catoosa County Campus in Ringgold to the Whitfield Murray Campus in Dalton. 
GNTC began offering EMT classes—which serve Dual Enrollment and traditional students—in fall 2023. Moving the EMT program to the Whitfield Murray Campus is part of an ongoing partnership between GNTC, the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy in Dalton and the Whitfield County Fire Department.
Georgia’s Dual Enrollment program allows qualified high school students in GNTC’s nine-county service area to maximize their education and career training by taking college-level courses that earn college and high school credit at the same time. 
“My goal in the future is a career in disaster relief, so having this certification would be beneficial in a career helping others,” said Yoselyn Paéz, a Dual Enrollment student from Northwest Whitfield High School who started out in the high school’s Pathway program. 
Anthony Muñoz, a Dual Enrollment student from Southeast Whitfield High School who plans to go straight into nursing after completing the program, said the program is a good way for him to gain experience.
“You learn first-hand what the stakes will be when you are in an emergency situation.” Mr. Muñoz said, “I like doing trauma assessments because you have to think about how you would treat a patient with certain injuries.” 
The EMT certificate program prepares students to provide basic emergency medical care and transportation for critical and emergent patients who access the emergency medical system. EMTs perform interventions with the basic equipment typically found on an ambulance and serve as a link from the scene of the emergency to the emergency health care facility.
GNTC offers EMT and Advanced EMT programs at the Whitfield Murray, Gordon and Floyd County campuses. 
The idea to offer Dual Enrollment EMT courses at the Whitfield Murray Campus began when the Whitfield County Fire Department sought an opportunity to enhance employee training and simultaneously reached out to the career academy about offering firefighter training to high school students in its Pathway program, said Nathan Callaway, assistant fire chief of the Whitfield County Fire Department. 
Whitfield Fire officials next met with GNTC administrators to explore the potential for the college to offer EMT training in Whitfield and Murray counties. 
The Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy requested GNTC consider moving its EMT program to the Whitfield Murray Campus, which is adjacent to the academy, said Nina Piatt, program director of Emergency Medical Services Technology at GNTC. The move also made sense because a lot of students participating in the EMT program at the Catoosa County Campus were coming from the Whitfield-Murray area already; the program did not contain the Dual Enrollment component when hosted at the Catoosa County Campus.
“This collaboration gives us an opportunity to develop the personnel who work for us by coming to classes on campus and earning college credits,” Asst. Chief Callaway said. “We want to see this program grow to be a partnership that benefits the entire community.”
Sam Hammontree, Whitfield County Fire Department division chief, said surrounding schools in Murray and Whitfield counties are asking how they can get involved, including Dalton Academy.
“We want to show graduating students opportunities for a career in a skilled trade,” Chief Hammontree said. “Not everyone wants to get a four-year degree after high school.”
The six Dual Enrollment students between ages 16-18 are enrolled in the morning EMT class, while traditional students ranging from age 18 to their mid-40s are enrolled in the AEMT class in the evening, said Stephanie Burch, instructor of Emergency Medical Services and Paramedic Technology at GNTC.
Students must be at least age 17 at the start of the semester with clinical, which is currently the spring semester, Ms. Piatt said. 
A captain with the Whitfield County Fire Department, Ms. Burch teaches the day classes, and has been teaching at GNTC since 2019 and working in the Emergency Medical Services/Fire Department field for 23 years.
GNTC hired seven new lab adjunct instructors, two of whom happen to be Whitfield County firefighters and serve as lab adjunct instructors for night classes, Ms. Piatt said. The adjuncts can help with all of the programs at the three campuses.
Six Whitfield County Fire Department employees have signed up for classes at WMC. Two graduated from the Career Academy and have returned to complete their Emergency Medical Services Professions diploma, two joined the program at the Gordon County Campus in Calhoun, and two will join the AEMT class when it starts in March, Ms. Piatt said.  
The current Dual Enrollment students in the day class will earn the EMT certificate, Ms. Piatt said. To earn the EMS Professions diploma, students must go on to complete the AEMT certificate portion of the course, along with required pre-occupational courses, Ms. Piatt said.
Upon completing the EMT program at GNTC, students can enter the AEMT program and then advance into the Paramedicine program.
Firefighter Jesse Arujo, who participated in the Pathway program in high school, joined the Whitfield County Fire Department in March 2023 and enrolled in the EMT class when his employer offered additional training to some employees. He said he wants to be a firefighter, but may consider becoming a paramedic in the future.
“What we are learning in the classroom is so realistic that it’s like when we respond to an emergency,” Mr. Arujo said. “I feel comfortable that I could do what I’m learning when I need to.”
Students said they have been impressed with the instructors’ willingness to share their own first-hand experiences and to spend time with students to make sure they master the lessons.
The EMT classroom has been outfitted with an ambulance simulator that includes cardiac monitors and other Advanced Life Support equipment found on an ambulance. The classroom also has a smart manikin that replicates various human patient physiology such as respiration, heart beat and pulse.
The program relocation is the latest of improvements to enhance Emergency Medical Services Technology programs at GNTC, Ms. Piatt said. 
GNTC unveiled its new, state-of-the-art home for its Paramedicine degree program—with brand-new equipment, including an ambulance that will be transportable to all six GNTC campuses—at the Gordon County Campus last year. 
GNTC offers an EMT certificate, AEMT certificate, Pre-Hospital Operations certificate (which covers EMT and AEMT with no pre-occupational courses), EMS Professions diploma (which covers EMT and AEMT with pre-occupational courses), Paramedic accelerated certificate, Paramedic diploma and Paramedic degree.
“This allows students a multitude of career options and opportunity for professional growth,” said Jennifer Loudermilk, associate vice president of Academic Affairs at GNTC.
GNTC’s diploma and associate degree programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educations programs upon the recommendation of the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions.
Pictured, from left, front row: GNTC Emergency Medical Technician students Yoselyn Paéz, Noe Sandoval, Gabriel Nunez, Jesse Araujo; back row: Jaley Hibberts, Chelsea Ford, Guadalupe Hernandez, Violet Bazan, Anthony Muñoz and Noe Trujillo.
Pictured, from left, front row: GNTC Emergency Medical Technician students Yoselyn Paéz, Noe Sandoval, Gabriel Nunez, Jesse Araujo; back row: Jaley Hibberts, Chelsea Ford, Guadalupe Hernandez, Violet Bazan, Anthony Muñoz and Noe Trujillo.
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