RIDGELAND, S.C. (WSAV) – Emergency workers have become more important than ever in the past year.
Lowcountry students now have a chance to get a hands-on lesson in the job, all while still in high school.
The Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence (ACE) works with both school districts to create alternative programs for students looking to learn a skill and build toward a career. There are about 200 in various programs, from engine repair to cosmetology.
Students themselves asked for a program to train how to be an Emergency Medical Technician. This semester ACE has seated the first class.
“Being able to catch the students at a younger, more moldable age and really light their passion for the field of EMS is the ultimate goal,” said Jennifer Calcorzi, ACE EMS Instructor.
A half dozen enterprising seniors are looking to get a leg up toward a job, like Melanie Barrientos, who already went through the pre-nursing program and wanted to add to her resume.
“Overall, by the end, I will be able to work at a job and not have so much debt in my bank account,” said Melanie.
Jake Lopko wants to go into the Coast Guard and believes this class could aid him in the next step.
“I can take this into the real world, say if something happens to someone and the EMTs aren’t there yet,” said Jake. “I can do some training and I can help them.”
Trained by an EMS instructor who is still on the job herself, they will get lessons and hands-on training in CPR, airway management, stabilizing trauma patients and saving lives.
“They are actually completing the program as any EMT student would,” said Calcorzi. “They actually have an advantage that they actually get to spend more time on certain subject areas.”
ACE Director Dr. Mike Lovecchio says the program is just the latest way to help students who want to work before or instead of college.
“A lot of these programs are recession-proof,” said Dr. Lovecchio. “So it is giving these students an opportunity to get out in the world and create a great life for themselves and their family.”
Down the line, these students might stay closer to home, filling an important need for local fire departments.
“If our high school students can come out certified as an EMT, that makes them one step ahead of someone that has no training at all,” said Bluffton Fire Captain Randy Hunter. “And if we can hire high school students into our community, keep them in our community, absolutely 100%.”
The EMS program at ACE runs for one semester and students can take the test to get certified when it is over.
If you have a student interested in the program, contact your school guidance counselor or call ACE directly.