Fire Department developing paramedic accreditation program - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Fire Department developing paramedic accreditation program

July 18th, 2019 development
Fire Department developing paramedic accreditation program

Staff Writer

The Chandler Fire Department is developing an accredited paramedic certification program after contracting with Chandler Regional Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

For the last 10 years, the Fire Department has worked with Phoenix College to train paramedics. Currently, the program takes about 10 months to complete and produces the city’s first line of medical responders.

However, in order to be accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs for its own paramedic program, the department must enter agreements with local hospitals to ensure students adequately fulfill the clinical training component of the program.

With a site visit from CAAHEP set for sometime within the next year and a half, the department must be under contract with the medical facilities to be considered for accreditation.

The Fire Department’s contract with Phoenix Children’s Hospital will run until June 2022 and the contract with Chandler Regional Medical Center will end next June. 

“Becoming an accredited program will ensure that students meet high competency benchmarks through rigorous training from clinical experts,” city records state.

Chandler Fire Department Fire Chief Tom Dwiggins said students are currently required to have 100 hours of clinical time in the hospital. With new access to the medical facilities, students will have the hands-on training with varying patient types necessary to be successful in the field, he added.

While in both Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Chandler Regional Medical Center, students will spend time in the emergency room, the intensive care unit, telemetry unit, the labor and delivery department and, “just about every other area of the hospital,” Dwiggins said.

While training in the facilities, the students will be working under the supervision of a physician or nurse to perform skills such as patient assessments, starting IVs, tracheal intubation, medication administration and delivering babies in the hospital, which Dwiggins says is always a student favorite.

“Our partnerships that we have with Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the opportunity to work with pediatric patients or Chandler Regional Medical Center and the opportunity we now have to work in a trauma center has really helped us to increase their skill set and their ability to deliver good service out in the field,” said Dwiggins.

Paramedics are certified only after passing knowledge and skills-based assessments. Different from EMTs, paramedics can provide treatment that breaks the skin, such as administering injections.

To become a paramedic, candidates must be certified EMT-Basic. Upon certification, EMTs apply for a training program in which they must have a sponsor lined up and ready to employ them upon completing their schooling.

Most training programs in the area prefer for EMTs to have two years of experience before applying for a paramedic program.

The state’s paramedic certification is valid for two years and is eligible for renewal. These requirements are expected to be the same under the new Chandler-based paramedic program.

At a Chandler City Council study session, Councilman René Lopez told Dwiggins, “I want to bring this to the attention of our public. Our public safety does more than just respond to calls. They go out there and are very proactive with our community.”

“Keeping our citizenry safe and our firemen at the utmost highest level of training,” Lopez added.