Students graduate from 2024 EMT course

Submitted by the San Juan County Public Hospital District 1

The heart of San Juan Island EMS is our volunteers, so we are proud to announce that the 2024 Emergency Medical Technician class graduated on April 27, with all eight students passing. The classes consisted of seven students from San Juan Island and one student from Lopez Island. All graduates will be volunteering with San Juan Island EMS or Lopez Island Fire and Rescue.

The class was primarily taught by Assistant Chief and Training Officer T. J. Bishop along with evaluators from both agencies and several guest instructors who covered special topics. This intensive course ran from January to April 2024. Students are required to attend 300 hours of lectures and classes, not including homework, complete 10 hours of clinical training, and pass a final exam. Many successfully completed the course while working full-time.

Typically held every two years, this EMT course is the primary pathway for community members who wish to serve as volunteer EMTs. Bishop said “At any given time, EMS could be hit with multiple calls, and the agency only staffs a single ambulance with paid full-time staff. Additionally, some calls can require a dozen responders or more, such as a cardiac arrest call. In such situations, we really need volunteer EMTs.”

Now that the course is complete, next steps include taking the National Registry, receiving their state certification, onboarding as a volunteer, and completing their field training. Although the EMT class has concluded, further training and education are necessary before students can independently respond to 9-1-1 calls.

Chief Nathan Butler added that “Some of these students will eventually become full-time staff, which is largely drawn from the ranks of our volunteer EMTs. That makes this an important long-term pipeline for future full-time EMTs and Paramedics in this community. Others prefer to volunteer, sometimes for decades, and become mentors to all of us.”

Many dedicated volunteers and staff contributed their time and expertise to assist with the EMT class, as did various agencies such as Harborview, Everett Fire, and PeaceHealth that agreed to serve as clinical sites. “It’s really a major undertaking for everyone in our agency and our partners,” said Assistant Chief Bishop.

A special thank you to our new graduates and a big thank you for their commitment to serving our community as volunteer EMTs.