Winter Haven, Fla. (September 6, 2018) — With the falling state and national average of certified paramedics in the field and their rising demand, Polk County Fire Rescue’s new integrity scholarship was designed to counter its affect on the county and refill the ranks of its rescue units. This morning, the inaugural class of this scholarship’s recipients reported to orientation at Polk State College’s Center for Public Safety.
This class of 25 men and women will participate in an eight and a half month accelerated paramedic program hosted and taught by Polk State College. Along with providing the group with a $1,600 monthly stipend, Polk County Fire Rescue will also cover the complete cost of schooling, books and other required materials.
In return, the selected recipients of the scholarship have signed a five-year continuous employment agreement with the division.
“There is both a state and national shortage of paramedics in the field, and we are feeling it here,” said Polk County Fire Rescue Chief Tony Stravino. “This scholarship opportunity is our answer to the shortage. We are looking forward to seeing what this inaugural class of 25 is capable of. Once they graduate and we can get them situated into our rescue units we will be better facilitated to serve the ever-growing needs of Polk County.”
With a continuously aging national population and occurrences of emergencies, such as motor vehicle crashes, natural disasters and acts of violence on the rise, the demand for mobile emergency medical attention has increased greatly. So much so, that the majority of calls now answered by fire rescue departments across the nation now fall into this category. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics is projected to grow 15 percent over the next eight years, which is much faster than the national average for all other occupations.
A paramedic’s training requires more than 1,000 curriculum hours in the classroom per national standards, plus an additional internship and field training. They can administer a wide range of medications, give injections, start IVs, insert breathing tubes and administer electromechanical as well as pneumatic ventilation. In comparison, EMT-certified personnel are the entry-level patient care providers. With approximately 150 hours of training, they can only provide basic care, such as CPR, positioning an injured patient, oxygen administration, as well as bandaging, splinting and wound care.