KLAMATH FALLS — Klamath Community College and Rogue Community College have kicked off a new partnership that will allow Klamath Basin residents to earn a paramedic degree without leaving the Basin.

“This partnership will benefit students in terms of cost effectiveness and program access, and will help meet industry demands for trained paramedics,” said Allison Sansom, KCC dean of Nursing and Health Sciences. “This is a win for our region. Students can gain experience so they can stay, live, and work as paramedics in our rural communities. We would like students to start contacting us now and to start taking classes this summer.”

The paramedic partnership program is designed for students new to the emergency response field, as well as professionals looking to take their careers to the next level. Students who earn an Associate of Applied Science in Paramedicine will have an opportunity to sit for the National Registry of Paramedics exam.

KCC Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Lead Kasey Lanning explained that students in the paramedic program will enroll at KCC for the first year of study, in which they will learn foundational skills, such as patient assessment and basic treatment options, as they prepare to sit for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technician exam. In the second year, students will enroll with RCC but be able to learn at KCC by having courses synchronously streamed to KCC in real-time.

“Students will only have to make minimal trips to the RCC Table Rock campus in White City each term,” Lanning said.

RCC Paramedicine Lead Gary Heigel said the value of having in-person labs is in the high-quality scenario-based education RCC provides, which includes training using state-of-the-art lifelike silicone mannequins made from 3-D printed molds that are based on MRI images of actual people.

Heigel emphasized that the program’s focus is making the overall learning experience as realistic as possible for students, whether that means using mannequins or role players who play the part of patients and act out scenarios using stage makeup effects for realism.

“If we are teaching students about controlling bleeding, they are going to have a patient that is actually bleeding. We have simulators that do that so there is blood pumping and the students have to figure out how to manage that,” Heigel said. “We don’t limit our training to the classroom. We put our simulated patients in ditches, in parking lots, in cars, and under cars. We expand to the entire campus and surrounding areas to create realistic simulations.”

Heigel said the greatest advantage of tasking students with real-world challenges is that they are gaining advanced level experience before entering the workforce.

“Klamath County Fire District 1 is excited about the new partnership between KCC and RCC’s paramedic program. The district responds to approximately 6,000 emergency medical services incidents per year and the need for paramedics has never been greater,” said KCFD1 Division Chief Devon Brown. “In the past, local professionals who wanted to progress from EMT to paramedic had to seek education outside the Klamath Basin. This new partnership is an amazing opportunity for existing EMTs and those who want to enter the emergency services career field.”

Heigel said paramedic program course requirements also provide an educational foundation to enter a number of medical fields, including nursing or physician’s assistant. Paramedicine graduates who would like to continue their education can do so by attending a school of their choice or by transferring to a four-year institution RCC has an established transfer agreement with and that allow students to transfer as juniors and with no loss of credit. Graduates can choose from Oregon Health Sciences University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, or Eastern Oregon University.

“It is an incredibly rewarding career. You have an opportunity to very clearly make a difference in other people’s lives. That’s not something everybody can say about their day-to-day work,” Heigel said.

For more information about the program, contact RCC Paramedicine Lead Gary Heigel at gheigel@roguecc.edu or KCC EMT Lead Kasey Lanning at himes@klamathcc.edu.