Number of EMS students surging in the Pee Dee
FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - Pee Regional Emergency Medical Services has seen more students trying to become EMT-certified in recent months.
“We are the regional training center for the 13 counties in the Pee Dee region. From Chesterfield to Georgetown,” said Mark Self, Executive Director of Pee Dee Regional EMS.
Self has taught EMTs and paramedics for more than 20 years and said 2020 was unlike anything he had seen before.
Class sizes were reduced from 90 students to 30, in order to allow for social distancing.
Parts of the curriculum were also taught virtually, and hands-on learning was limited due to hospital restrictions and the shutdown of technical colleges.
Self says they average around a 70% pass rate during a normal year, but those numbers dropped last year.
“We just did the statistics for 2020 and they are appreciably lower,” he said. “Because of all the things that occurred during the pandemic and everything since then.”
However, Self explained that 2021 is already looking much better. In fact, Pee Dee Regional EMS is gearing up for their eighth class of the year.
“Which is remarkable considering we’re not even halfway through the year yet,” he said.
Self believes vaccination rates, pay and employment opportunities are the biggest reason behind the recent surge in students.
The average salary for EMTs is averaging close to $40,000, according to Self.
Paramedics can make nearly $60,000, with several ambulance companies are even offering sign-on bonuses.
“They can go to basically any EMS service across the state, private or public and walk out and have a job,” said Self.
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