Inland Northwest Health Services will begin offering a paramedic training program in March, filling a gap left after Spokane Community College stopped offering those courses for budgetary reasons.
Since SCC dropped its paramedic program in the fall, the closest place that training has been available is the Tri-Cities, school officials said.
The classes here were often filled with firefighters from Eastern Washington and North Idaho, as well as employees of American Medical Response, which provides ambulance service locally.
“It seemed like a good fit,” said Carolyn Stovall, professional education coordinator at Health Training Network, a division of Inland Northwest Health Services. “We have instructors, and the resources to do the program, and it finishes off everything else that we teach.”
Spokane-based INHS is a nonprofit that provides a wide range of medical services and training.
Stovall added, “We do all the specialty EMS (emergency medical services) training; the American Heart Association training. The paramedic program was really the only thing missing.”
The Health Training Network decided to offer the paramedic program after being approached by fire department leaders from Spokane and Spokane Valley.
“The fear was if SCC went under, people would have to shop outside the community for a paramedic program, and we didn’t want that,” said Brian Schaeffer, assistant chief of the Spokane Fire Department.
The new paramedic program will begin in March at the old Spokane Fire Department training center behind Spokane Community College.
In addition to the paramedic program, the Health Training Network will also offer an anatomy and physiology course, a prerequisite for the paramedic program, starting on Feb. 6, Stovall said.
The paramedic program consists of 25 weeks of classroom training, 276 hours spent in a hospital or clinical setting and an internship.
“Students must work with an EMS agency, putting the knowledge they’ve learned into use in the field,” Stovall said. “They need to put in a minimum of 360 hours in the field.”
Each phase of the program must be successfully completed before moving on to the next, Stovall said. Upon successful completion, students will receive certification as a Washington paramedic.
Additionally, students who receive a paramedic certificate from the Health Training Network can receive credit toward a degree at North Idaho College.
The estimated cost of the program is about $8,300, comparable to other programs in Washington, emergency services officials said.
“We were glad to hear they were starting one,” said Spokane Valley Fire Chief Mike Thompson. “We are really looking forward to being able to send some people there.”