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What You Should Know About Accrediting Paramedic Education

The upcoming John P. Redmond Health and Safety Symposium/Dominick Barbera EMS Conference will include a comprehensive session on how fire departments – large and small – can build their own paramedic education programs.

Small- and mid-sized fire departments can do many things to start their own paramedic education programs and the accreditation process. However, misconceptions about cost, flexibility and instructor educational requirements may stop discussions as soon as they start. There are costs associated with accreditation, as well as the day to day operational program expenses. 

Did you know costs can be shared by seeking partnerships with community agencies, such as a community college,  university, hospital  or medical clinic, to deliver a paramedic education training program? Additionally, partnering with another fire department can help spread costs and strengthen operations across a region. Just be mindful, if your fire department decides to seek a secondary accreditation with a sponsor that is a post-secondary academic institution, the sponsor needs to be accredited by a regional or national institutional accrediting agency (or equivalent) that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions provides a breakdown of fees. But don’t be deterred by expenses; instead, think of ways to maximize opportunities and minimize misunderstanding. For more information on acceptable accrediting agencies, visit http://coaemsp.org/Standards.htm

Keep in mind, programs can be flexible as long as they include an appropriate sequence of classroom, laboratory, hospital and field internship activities. Additionally, not all instructors for an accredited program need to have a bachelor’s degree – only the program director. With planning and understanding, any department can support, or be a partner in, an accredited paramedic education program.

The session, “Teaching Our Own: Building a Fire Department-Based Paramedic Training Program,” addresses these and other aspects of starting a paramedic education program and the accreditation process. President of Shreveport, LA Local 514 Barbara Sellers and EMS Standing Committee Representative Jeff Sadtler represent the IAFF on the accreditation board to assure that education stays accessible to our members, and will be presenters for this session on paramedic education requisites, changes and opportunities.

The IAFF supports accreditation and is dedicated to helping its members learn more about the process and why it’s important for fire departments to pursue accreditation.

Register for the conference and select the “Teaching Our Own: Building a Fire Department-Based Paramedic” workshop on August 10 at 9:00 a.m.

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