Wanted: Life-saving paramedics - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Wanted: Life-saving paramedics

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January 26, 2004

Albany - Paramedics are the only emergency workers who can give patients life-saving medicines before reaching the hospital. But, there aren't enough paramedics to fill empty positions at EMS stations across the country and here in South Georgia.

These paramedic students at Albany Tech are training to save lives. And, they can't graduation soon enough. "We have two full time openings and no part-timers to promote to those positions," said EMS Director Bobby Tripp.

Tripp says Dougherty County is in critical need of paramedics. Many paramedics and EMT's are working overtime.

"The general public doesn't understand there's a difference between an EMT and a paramedic," Albany Tech Instructor Charles Proctor. Proctor says paramedics are doctors on wheels. "A paramedic can give any drug that you can receive in an emergency room, expect blood. They can do anything a physician can do, in your living room."

Tammye Atkinson is one of just four students at Albany Tech taking the two year paramedic program. "You have to learn anatomy, physiology, training in entibation and drug therapy," said Atkinson.

Once completing the course, paramedics must pass a state certification test. Then, they face the harsh realities of the job. "Low pay, long hours, difficult working conditions," said Tripp.

The starting salary for paramedics is about $30,000, and a love for the job is a must. "They're motivated to have a job that means something," said Tripp.

Atkinson says she's ready for the challenge. "You never know what you'll be doing from one minute to the next. That's why I love it so much." A paramedic can be the difference between life or death, but only if they're along for the ride.

The HOPE Scholarship will pay for paramedic training at the State's technical colleges.

Posted at 4:40PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com