ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins Co. School System is considering a partnership with Walters State Community College to offer basic EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) courses to county high school students in the future.

The program is still in the beginning stages, as the Director of Schools Matt Hixson is still working with representatives from WSCC to develop a course model.

The first step in developing the program involves surveying student interest.

“Depending upon interest and numbers, we would then work with Walters State to design a schedule to accomplish the requirements while working with the students’ schedules,” Hixson told the Review.

This course would last a full semester and would function much like the current duel enrollment courses offered to county high schoolers through WSCC and Northeast State Community College.

“Students would take EMT courses through Walters State, taught by either our staff or Walters State staff,” he said. “This would depend on availability and qualifications.”

According to Hixson, once students have completed the course and turned 18, they would be eligible to take the required certification exam to become an EMT.

“Students with this level of training would be able to test for National Registry, which is recognized nationwide, as an EMT and could volunteer with both fire departments and rescue squads and possibly intern with EMS agencies,” Bill Killen told the Review.

It was Killen, retired NASA Launch Pad Fire Crew Chief, member of the National Fire Chiefs Association and member of the Hawkins Co. EMS committee who came up with the idea and presented it to Hixson.

“In addition to these organizations, students with EMT training are better prospects for jobs with medical facilities such as doctor’s offices, hospitals, and, in some instances, certain industries,” Killen said. “It is also possible that college students with EMT training might work part time with EMS agencies while attending college.”

Students who complete the duel enrollment course and desire further training can continue with WSCC after high school to pursue one of many EMT-related associates programs. Numerous other higher education facilities around East Tennessee also offer these kinds of degree programs.

Killen told the Review that he identified the need for such classes through his service on the county’s EMS Advisory Committee.

“I learned that there are many areas in the county where the response time of an ambulance is 30 minutes or more,” he said. “In instances of a heart attack, trouble breathing, or a serious bleeding injury, time is critical. I believe that, the more trained citizens we have, the chances of survival improve.”

Thus, Killen explained that the goal of the courses is to “increase the number of citizens trained at the EMT level, increase the potential lifesaving capability in Hawkins Co., and prepare high school students for job opportunities where EMT certification would be a plus.”

Killen also noted that other states offer similar programs to high school students.

“Wisconsin and Virginia have programs where EMT training is taught in high schools,” Killen said. “Maryland also offers training to volunteers in local fire and rescue agencies.”

Hixson told the Review that he loved the idea when he heard Killen’s proposal.

“He (Killen) was creatively thinking about ways to increase our county’s emergency response concerns and ways to offer our students a possible career path,” he said. “It never hurts to have life-saving personnel spread out throughout the county, even if they are Hawkins Co. students.”