New Provider Will Increase Number Of Paramedics
EL PASO, Texas -- The El Paso Fire Department decided to train its paramedics with a different service provider other than Texas Tech in order to graduate more paramedics and address the shortage. "The contract that we currently have and the format that they were doing it in was not conducive to producing the amounts of paramedics that we feel is necessary for a department our size," said Fire Chief Otto Drozd. The format Drozd talks about is the model used by Texas Tech. For the last 17 years, Texas Tech provided paramedic training to all fire fighters. But Drozd says the number of paramedics under the Texas Tech's program has been sparse. "We accommodated that by increasing our class size and we taught a shorten course," said Dr. Brian Nelson, professor and chair of the department of Emergency Medicine. Nelson said they went from teaching 1100 hours to 700 -- the minimum acceptable standard. "Students felt at the end of the course unprepared and our failure rate which has been zero for a long time went up to more than 30 percent," said Nelson. Nelson said that was last fall and he told Drozd he wouldn't do it again. That's when Drozd decided to contract with another provider who can produce the number of paramedics needed in a community the size of El Paso. "We're not increasing the amount of people per class by twice the amount, we're just increasing the number of classes per year," said Otto. Drozd ensures the training meets state and national guidelines and as adequate as the training fire fighters were getting at Texas Tech. "And this is having a significant impact on the men and woman of the department. In the past, they were stressed because of few amounts of paramedics," Drozd said.