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Class During Covid: Madison College Paramedic Academy values in-person classes

Paramedic Academy part of 5% of Madison College classes held in-person
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 3:00 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2020 at 5:50 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -To learn how to save lives, in-person classes can be a life saver for students. Madison College Paramedic Academy Student Heather Seeber said, "So much of what we do as paramedics is hands-on. It’s really hard if you’re doing a virtual IV. "

At Madison College, only 5-percent of all classes are fully in-person. The Paramedic Academy is one of the 5-percent being conducted fully in the classroom. An intensive hands-on class for those who want to serve their communities as paramedics, the Academy has been designed to give students the hands-on experience they need while keeping them safe.

Paramedic Academy Instructor Chad Powell said, “We can read about it all we want in a textbook, but until you actually do it, it’s the only way you can actually learn, and get good and really become proficient at the skills. We have to come to campus and do these things." Paramedic Academy Students learn to start IVs by inserting needles into each other, practice their CPR skills with sophisticated simulation mannequins, and learn many other vital skills they’ll need to save lives.

Seeber’s fellow student Allie Feys added, “Being a paramedic, there’s a lot of hands-on. Face-to-face is also really important. So being able to read your patient and talk to them can be really difficult in trying to talk through a screen and simulate that and actually getting the reps that you need. So I feel really blessed that we still can come in.”

Paramedic Program Director Brandon Ryan said after COVID-19 shut down class in the spring for a while, instructors and directors came up with a plan to keep students as safe as possible, while still letting students in the Paramedic Academy meet fully in-person.

Ryan said students must pass a temperature check, wear masks throughout the day, practice small group social distancing, and keep hands and instruments clean and sanitized. Ryan said in a way, it’s good training for future paramedics. “This is the best hands-on training that they can actually get. Right? We talk about infectious disease prevention...it’s a lot of theory in class...they actually are getting to practice it.”

Ryan said technology just isn’t good enough yet to learn these crucial skills virtually. That’s fine with student Tashia Kirch, who said meeting in-person has been important for her. Kirch said, “For me, I’m a very hands-on learner so without the hands-on learning portion of this I would really be struggling. So, I appreciate the opportunity to be able to be here and do this, even if we can’t do clinical sites, I’m still getting that exposure to learn and the techniques we need.”

You can’t eliminate COVID-19 risk entirely with an in-person class, but these students, most of whom are already firefighters, understand the rewards outweigh the potential risks. Powell said, “They are willing to risk their health to achieve this accomplishment so that they can serve their communities as firefighters, as paramedics, as police officers. Their mentality makes it pretty easy to overcome any of those hurdles we have.”

Seeber said she’s willing to face some risk to reach her goal of serving her community as a paramedic. She said, “Covid or not, I was going to be here.”

Click here for more information on Madison College Paramedic or EMT courses.

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