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Central Massachusetts Firefighters Ignite Their Careers Through QCC’s Paramedic Technology Program

February, 2019
  • QCC paramedic students from left: Maria Soja, Jay Kersting, Brian Hatch and Ioanis Pintzopoulus
    QCC paramedic students from left: Maria Soja, Jay Kersting, Brian Hatch and Ioanis Pintzopoulus
  • QCC paramedic student Ioanis Pintzopoulus
    QCC paramedic student Ioanis Pintzopoulus works on a life-like patient mannequin simulator.
  • QCC paramedic students Brian Hatch & Maria Soja
    QCC paramedic students Brian Hatch and Maria Soja practice emergency medical procedures on "Hal," a life-like patient mannequin simulator.

Encountering a firefighter or paramedic on the job is something most of us hope we never have to face; however, when an emergency arises, these are the first people we want to see.  At Quinsigamond Community College, no one knows that better than the instructors in QCC’s Paramedic Technology associate degree program. These industry experts have trained many of the paramedics that serve in today’s firehouses across Central Massachusetts.

Many of QCC’s paramedic students are firefighters within the region who have chosen to advance their skillset. QCC’s Program Coordinator of the Emergency Medical Services Program, Cheryl Finn said approximately 75 percent of the students in her current classes are firefighters.

Newly appointed Northborough firefighter and paramedic student Brian Hatch attended QCC right from high school, earning his Emergency Medical Services (EMT) certificate before deciding to continue at the college for his associate degree in Paramedic Technology

“Students must be EMTs before they can take the paramedics course,” Ms. Finn said.  “Students are generally in their 20s, however, we do have students in their 30s and 40s.”

QCC paramedic student Jonathan “Jay” Kersting, a newly appointed full-time firefighter in Orange had previously attended QCC, earning a degree in criminal justice before eventually returning back to pursue his Paramedic Technology degree at the college.  

Northborough firefighter and QCC student Ioanis Pintzopoulus said he had heard a lot about the college’s paramedic program before attending.

 “I knew a lot of people who came here to Quinsigamond. I worked for Community EMS and Patriot (ambulance services) and every time paramedic school came up, QCC was mentioned,” he said.

Paramedic student Maria Soja, a firefighter on the Auburn Fire Department, was already familiar with QCC, having obtained other degrees from the college.

EMS (Emergency Medical Services) tends to be a small world and a lot of the firefighters I come in contact with, a good majority of them have come to QCC,” Soja said.

QCC’s Paramedic Technology program combines academics with the opportunity to deliver optimum patient care at several clinical hospital sites, using a preceptor approach. Clinical rotations occur within a variety of hospital departments( Intensive/Critical Care Unit, Emergency Department, Anesthesiology (Operating Room), Pediatric Emergency Department, Emergency Mental Health, Labor and Delivery, and other departments as needed). The final component of the program is the paramedic field practicum, which provides students with an opportunity to utilize and refine the skills and knowledge they have gained.

Unlike many other programs, according to many of the students, what distinguished QCC’s Paramedic program was its delivery, focusing on academics before clinical, and the fact that the program is semester-based.

 “The semester approached really worked. We were completely focused on the academic before clinical.      This sets the program apart from other programs where often you learn in dribs and drabs,” Mr. Kersting said. “Being able to devote time for academics before you do anything is important so you don’t get ahead of yourself.”

“I also like the fact that the program is a two-year program. Personally, I can better retain information that way. Some other paramedic programs are accelerated and that doesn’t work for me,” Mr. Hatch added.

Other aspects of the program that stood out for the students included the support of professors and instructors, who have all worked in some aspect of the EMS field. All the students said this gave them a real-world perspective on what it’s like to be a paramedic.

“The professors are very helpful and they’ll put in the extra work, to help you because they want you to succeed,” Mr. Hatch said.

“The instructors are incredibly supportive and I wouldn’t have made it to this last semester without them,” Mr. Kersting added.

Ms. Soja said she’s found this to be the perfect program for those who are currently working or looking for employment.

“This is really the place to get your two-year degree. It’s local, convenient, and can work with people’s schedules. It gives you expose to people who are working in the field in this area and if you don’t have a job and are looking for one, it’s a great way to network.”

To learn more, visit the Paramedic Technology Program.