From C.H.S. to E.M.S.
Judy Manalastas may complete her Emergency Medical Technician certification at Central Florida Community College on May 4, 2007, and that is before she even graduates from Chiefland High School in Levy County. She said it has not been easy getting this far.
"Being a senior, we have no time and then we come here from six till 10 at night, four days a week," the 18-year-old said. "It's been worth it, even if it's been really, really hard."
Manalastas is one of eight high school seniors receiving the E.M.T. training, and when she graduates from high school on May 25, 2007, she could also be one of the newest E.M.T.s in Levy County.
"The shortage of E.M.S. workers nationwide is ten times worse than the nursing shortage, and we've come to understand that even though we offer wonderful benefits to offer our employees, it's not pulling them in," Trish Seibold, one of the E.M.T. instructors said.
That is part of the reason Central Florida Community College and Chiefland High School started a program to allow high school seniors enrolled in the healthcare program with at least a 3.0 grade point average to train for free at the Levy campus; the course normally costs approximately $1,800.
"Our understanding is we have to basically breed our own E.M.S. employees," Siebold explained. "That's what we're doing by training our children to have a future and have a career when they graduate."
Students take the course alongside people like Richard Bloom, the Fire Chief for Station 78 in Morriston, who helps them realize how important the training is and how lucky they are to receive it.
"Nowadays, most of our calls are medical-related, and I'm a first-responder just trying to step-up my level of training," the volunteer firefighter said after over 21 years of service. "Whenever people call for help, they want somebody that knows somewhat what's going on."
And Manalastas said she knows what's going on...now. She still wants to be a nurse, but this experience has helped her re-think her immediate future.
"I wanted to be a pediatrician at first, but now that I've been through the program, this is something I really wanted to do," she said. "I think it's something I'm actually going to do for awhile, before I go into pediatrics."
By Ted Latiak, WCJB TV20 News
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