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Quality of EMT certification programs..

If youve read my posts before you know I havent yet started certification at all.

I live in the bay area and the two programs I am likely to go through are at Merritt College in Oakland and Chabot in Hayward. How do you judge emt-b cert programs? Are they all pretty much the same?

Also down the line when I (hopefully) decide I want to go to Medic School, how do you judge those? I understand some are around $8000 all told, and some community college programs are far less expensive. Is the price dictated by the quality of the program or do the cheaper Community College programs just fill up more quickly because they are cheap? :)

In lists that ive seen I dont see any Paramedic Schools that are in Alameda county.. I could be wrong ive only lived here a few months.


Judging EMT programs is somewhat subjective
(your opinion versus someone else's). There is no
formal way to judge an EMT program. Some
schools have better reputations than other schools
(at least by word of mouth; whether or not that
reputation is deserving or not is a different story).

Now bear with me a bit. I coordinate and am one
of the instructors for the Chabot program. I think
we have a good reputation based on the feedback I
get from past students and current ones that tell
me they went to our program because of the good
reputation. Yes, I might be biased towards our
program, but I also know the time and effort all of
the instructional staff puts into it. We start with
about 50 to 60 students every semester and
graduate about 30 every semester (give or take).
Some EMT programs graduate a good portion of
those that start. Does that mean we are tougher
on students? Maybe. Does that mean we demand
and expect more out of our students? Maybe.
Does that mean that we are a bad program
because we fail about half of the students every
semester? I would say no, and also that we didn't
fail the students; they just did not meet the
expected standard.

To find out what program is best is almost a
loaded question. Talk to graduates of all the local
programs. Talk to EMT's and Paramedics that
work for both AMR and the local fire departments;
they can all give you some good insight.

While I think we really challenge our students, I still
hear students coming back after having worked as
EMT's saying they wish we challenged them more!
Most students feel prepared to do the job after they
graduate (at least that's what we hear from many of
our past students). I think if we challenged some of
them more, we'd probably graduate about only 15
or 20 every semester. Is that a bad thing? Who
knows. I do think we put out a competent and safe
beginner at the end of the semester (I wouldn't
sign my name on their completion certificate if I
didn't feel that way).

As for picking EMT schools, not everyone has the
luxury of picking and choosing. Some schools
work better for different people based on
schedules. Our program meets every Thursday
from 8 to 5. Merritt I believe meets two nights a
week, 4 hours per night. Las Positas in Livermore
does Tuesday night for 3 hours and Saturday for
about 5 hours. So you see that we each have
different schedules, and only one might fit into your
schedule. In reality, once you graduate, your EMT
certificate that is issued by the County looks the
same as the next person's card (even thought they
might have gone through a different EMT program).
This also goes for medic schools.

There are good and bad EMT and medic schools
out there. If you go through a "bad" program, does
that mean you are going to be a bad EMT or
medic? Not necessarily. I truly believe it is what
you make of it and what effort you put into it.
Remember that wherever you go, you still have to
pass the same final skills exam and written exams
(give or take) to graduate. I've seen very good
medic and EMT schools graduate candidates that
probably shouldn't have finished the program
(based on their lack of skills).

That's reality. Talk to people, get the opinions of
those folks working in the field. Talk to students,
get their opinions. Find a program that fits into
your schedule.

If you haven't checked out the website I've created
for our Fire Technology and EMS program, feel free
to visit it at
i (I realize you don't want to be a firefighter, that's
fine; it still has relevant information for you). Just
click on the EMT and Paramedic information link
on the home page and it will give you more
information about our program. Go to the LINKS
page and I have websites for most of the other
EMT programs in the state, as well as paramedic
programs. Shop around. Even if Chabot's doesn't
fit into your schedule or plan, my job is to point you
to another program that does.

Yes, there are no paramedic programs in Alameda
County, at least at the community college level.
NCTI has been doing off and on programs in
Emeryville and Livermore. I have their website on
their too. HCEN has been doing programs in
Pleasanton. The closest community colleges are
Santa Rosa Junior College and Foothill College in
Los Altos/Palo Alto.

As for which are better, go back to what I said
about EMT programs. If I were doing it again, the
biggest thing I would look for in a school was that it
main reasons we had to shut down our medic
program. We couldn't compete with NCTI and
other schools that could provide an internship
more promptly.

Hope that helps. Feel free to email me at
sprziborowski@chabotcollege if I can provide any
further information.

The link for the Chabot College Fire Technology
and EMS website in the post above should have
i and my email address should have been

Sorry for any confusion.

Thanks very much for the replies. I think maybe I havent fully understood what role a paramedic plays in a fire department.. ill keep my mind open on it.

Thanks again.

my two cents - go through your emt class first. this will give you a good idea as to whether the medical side is something you enjoy or not, especially as you do your ridealongs. since you'd be going on ridealongs with paramedics, use your downtime on your ridealong to ask them questions about their job. personally i was going to take my emt class just to take care of a necessary certification, but i found that in the class i really loved it, and in talking to the medics i rode along with (and the ones that assisted in the class), it was something that i wanted to take further.

i guess what i'm saying is perhaps having a wait and see attitude works - go through your class first and make up your mind by the end. by that point you should be fully armed with all the info you need.

good luck!

As far as EMT-B schools, I have not heard that many flattering things about any program. Usually the intstructor's are very knowledgeable but when it comes to doing labs, they can be somewhat unorganized. That being said I would pick a program that you can fit into your schedule. When labs come around it will help if you are a self motivated person to get the most out of it.

As far as medic school goes I am one of the people paying 8000. I can tell you that my class is completely full. And again you need to look at schedules and talk to people that have been through different programs and figure what you can live with. Personally I have heard really good things about the medic program that runs out of Foothill College. I think that Hospital Consortium runs that program.

I am in the NCTI program and like the teachers that I have encountered so far.

It will take a little bit of research but people from the different programs are usually more than helpful with potential students. Every program will have pros and cons and different associated costs.

Good Luck,

as far as emt-b programs go, skyline has a reputation for being insanely tough but good (and allow about $600 for the course - the teacher makes you pay about $200 for handouts!) and city college has a reputation for being good but a lot easier than skyline. i know lots of paramedics who took their emt class at city college and have nothing but good things to say about their time there.

as far as researching paramedic programs, all of the programs have to either be caahep accredited by january 1, 2004 or (from my understanding) they can't be considered to be a paramedic school. anyway, this is a list (though i don't know how current) of schools in california and their accreditation status:

also, when you are looking at paramedic schools, estimate to be starting in 6 months-a year from when you get your emt-b certificate...most schools (if not all) require you to have significant experience on an ambulance before starting paramedic school. and if they don't require that, usually the masses of people applying that have the experience will be looked on more favorably in the selection process than those that don't.

hope i've made some sense.

and to back up what chabotfire said, if the school doesn't have a guaranteed internship (which i believe will be part of caahep accreditation), then i'd question if it's worth it...i know several paramedic students that had a hellish time trying to get their own internships.

Emt classes can be rewarding if you are there to really take something out of it than just a certificate. Most classes have a 40-50% drop out rate due to people assuming it is a simple course and possibly 7 units, what they don't realize is that you do have to study and pay attention in class.

My instructor Kathy Carol in southern california was terrific. She realy cared and was an emt and paramedic for many years for ventura county.Having a background in the ems field and her stories keep the class wanting to come back and learn. It broke up the long hours (3.5 a day).

Paramedic school would be up to you. Try being and emt for 6 months and get the feel, before comitting yourself to a paramedic school.
Paramedic school will suck everything out of you and YOU HAVE TO STUDY YOUR A** OFF.Pharmacology,anatomy,vitals and scenarios can be a little overwhelming... not to mention EKG.

After the first month of class you will see if the intrest is still there to complete your emt training.
Best of luck to you and for extra learning and certs pick up a few (or all) in fire technologies.

As far as cost go there might be a solution if you are able to move from your area. I have seen paramedic school fees from 3500.00 to 9600.00.

Best of luck hope this information helps

I cannot vouch for either program. I can tell you however that Steve (Chabotfire) posts here on a regular basis and I ALWAYS agree with his posts. If that is any indication I would bet his program is respected by those that have participated in it.

Paul Lepore
This message was edited by Paul on 4-7-03 @ 9:31 PM