PCC paramedic program ranks high nationally

By STEPHEN MOORE

Graduates of Pima Community College’s Public Safety and Emergency Services Institute paramedic program have consistently higher pass rates than Arizona’s statewide and national averages for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians’ paramedic exam.

PSESI, Arizona and national first attempt passing rates the NREMT paramedic are shown in Chart A, according to statistical reports on the Arizona Department of Health Services website azdhs.gov.

Candidates who fail on their first attempt can try two more times before having to take additional courses. Cumulative pass rates within three attempts are shown in Chart B.

Candidates who do not pass within three attempts must complete an additional 48 hours of course study. After that, they may attempt to pass the exam three more times.

If a candidate does not pass within six attempts, they are not eligible to become a paramedic, although they can still serve as an emergency medical technician, according to Sharon Hollingsworth, PSESI program director.

The paramedic program consists of 57 credit courses, which translates into about 1,330 hours, in addition to a minimum of 604 hours of clinical and vehicular rotations.

The estimated cost to complete the program is $7,144, according to PSESI paramedic course information packet.

Not all students pay for the classes themselves. Many are sponsored by agencies, usually fire departments and ambulance services. Sponsoring fire departments include Tucson Fire; Mountain Vista Fire; Sonoita-Elgin Fire; Northwest Fire; Picture Rocks Fire; and Golder Ranch Fire.

Any time a third party is paying for courses, an intergovernmental agreement must be signed. Most often, the agreements allow PSESI students to perform vehicular rotations, or ride-alongs. Students must complete 500 hours of vehicular rotations, according to Hollingsworth.

The Tucson Fire Department is pleased with its long-standing agreement with PSESI, according to Deputy Chief Mike Garcia.

“Quality varies, but in general the students are good,” Garcia said.

He said he gets good feedback from his preceptors — the firefighters who mentor the students.

One contract of note that does not involve a fire department is with the Airforce Medical Services. The five-year contract, signed in 2013, brings in Air Force personnel from all around the world. About 115 Air Force personnel have completed the paramedic training, according to Hollingsworth.

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