The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Monday, January 27, 2014
By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer
"If you have a shortage of doctors, are you going to tell medical students they can forget about two years of medical school?"
This question sums up Franklin County Director of Public Safety Daryl Hatcher's thoughts on a bill that would reduce the number of classroom hours for Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).
The bill, HB1010, would reduce the number of instruction hours for first responders (law enforcement, firefighters) from 63 to 40 hours and reduce the number of hours for EMTs from 154 to 80.
"That (the bill) would take us back to 1971 standards," Hatcher said.
Volunteer EMTs in Franklin County must meet the same standards as paid personnel to keep the level of patient care consistent.
"We all agree that we have to do more to attract volunteers," he added. "But there are better ways than reducing the training requirements for EMTs."
Updating the curriculum and teaching methodology to make it more volunteer friendly is the best approach, according to Hatcher.
"Few people have the luxury of spare time," he said. "Our EMT students spend two nights each week for six months in a classroom, as well as one weekend. Few people have that kind of free time."
"If we could incorporate distance learning and focus on the practical application in the classroom, it would be beneficial for our volunteers," Hatcher added. "We also need to make the curriculum more effective to increase our pass rates for national certification."
Reducing the training hours would also place Virginia's standards below the national certification requirements, meaning EMTs in Virginia would not be qualified to practice in other states.
"Reducing the instruction hours would place Virginia's standards below the national standards," Hatcher said. "Our students would not qualify for national certification."
In terms of volunteer recruitment, Hatcher said the EMT classes at Franklin County High School and the Health and Human Services classes at the Gereau Center, which include instruction in CPR and first-aid, have been a valuable tool for recruiting a new generation of volunteers.