They’re the front line workers – the first to respond when someone is injured or sick. The ones who take control of an emergency situation, provide immediate care, calm fears and often block the door between life and death.

The world needs more of them.

In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics will grow 24 percent by 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Mid-Plains Community College is doing its part to help meet the demand. The college offers a two-semester EMT program that teaches students the basics of emergency care, such as how to check vital signs and how to assess, splint and transport patients.

Students Katy Zehnder, of McCook, Kaleb Wonderly, Keagan Lines, Justin Hilliker and Aaron Kotschwar observe as Hope Garcia and Ethan Osnes demonstrate compressions and ventilation on a CPR manikin.

Successful completion qualifies students to take the EMT certifying exam administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. Licensure is good for two years, then must be maintained through continuing education.

“There are a lot of benefits to being an EMT,” said Joy Molcyk, MPCC Emergency Medical Services/Paramedic program director. “First off, it’s just nice to be able to know what to do in an emergency situation. EMT training is also a great stepping stone into the field of health care and is a great way to give back to the community.”

She said it helps if those considering becoming an EMT are detail-oriented. They also must be able to take the initiative in an emergency situation.

“You can’t wait for someone to tell you what to do,” said Molcyk. “You have to have self-confidence, and you have to care about people. That’s our business – people. Sometimes, you do the best for them simply by showing that you care and have the situation under control.”

MPCC offers EMT classes throughout its 18-county service area. It also offers a class specifically for high school seniors. They can take the national exam in advance, but have to be at least 18 to receive a license.   

EMT and Paramedic stats according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

2015 Median Pay:
$31,980 per year/
$15.38 per hour

Number of jobs in 2014: 241,200

Job Outlook for 2014-2024:
24% (Much faster than average)

Employment Change for
2014-2024: 58,500


1,130 jobs in 2014. 1,390 by 2024. An average of 50 openings per year in the state.