Bevill State Community College recently received a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to fund the opening of an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program at the college’s Pickens County Educational Center.
The grant, in the amount of $83,405, establishes the local program to assist the county, which is a medically underserved area. Objectives of the grant include providing greater dual enrollment offerings to high school students; additional continuing education opportunities to healthcare professionals and first responders; greater career options for the unemployed and underemployed residents of the county; and assistance in facilitating employment for trained and licensed EMT’s in the area.
The EMT Program is a 16-week course that includes classroom lecture, practical sessions, clinical study and homework. Course topics include childbirth emergencies, cardiac management, trauma, triage, and transport. Medical manikins used to simulate Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator is also used in the course. Funds from the ARC grant will go towards purchasing this equipment with the remaining funds being used for personnel and facility usage.
Because Pickens County is a medically underserved area, the program will have a positive impact for county residents. The county not only suffers from a shortage of health care professionals, but it has only two emergency service workers. The county currently lacks any emergency medical services training for first responders.
Demographics also point towards the need of the program. According to the original grant proposal, 40% of the county’s population is aged 60 and over, which statistically indicates that medical emergency needs would be higher for the county.
High school students in Pickens County also benefit from the program through dual enrollment opportunities. Dual enrollment allows eligible high school students to enroll in college classes concurrently with high school classes and receive both high school and college credit.
“The opportunity for students to participate in the EMT program through dual enrollment at Bevill State is essential for improving our preparation for students to enter the workforce out of High School,” said Pickens Couth Schools Superintendent Jamie Chapman.
In the first three years, the program is expected to see 50 Bevill State students complete the short-term certificate program; 200 high school students be introduced to the EMT career track; 100 county employees receive skills upgrade training; and 36 Bevill State students complete a credential and be gainfully employed within an area close to their Pickens County homes.
“This grant provides a much needed program to those within our service area. I am proud that we are able to meet this need and assist in expanding opportunities to the citizens and students who benefit from the Pickens County Educational Center,” said Dr. Tom Huebner, acting president of Bevill State Community College.
The Pickens County Educational Center, located on Highway 86 East in Carrollton, is centrally located in the heart of Pickens County and just a short thirty-minute drive from Tuscaloosa or Columbus, MS. Its location provides easy access for citizens in the area and surrounding counties of west Alabama and east Mississippi. The Pickens County Educational Center is a 20,000 square-foot facility ready to meet the educational needs of all from Adult Education classes to short-term certificates or two-year degrees in technical programs as well as academic transfer programs.