COC EMT students are practicing patient medical assessments next to Towslet Hall on the Valencia campus on March/30/2022 photo by Jeff Lowzik (

When disaster strikes, it takes a particular person to run toward the danger rather than away.

To put themselves at risk in an attempt to help others.

For Emergency Medical Technicians, more commonly known as EMTs, risking oneself is just a part of the job.

EMTs are usually the first on the scene, responding to medical emergencies or traumatic events caring for patients at the location and transporting them by ambulance to a hospital when necessary.

“In life, I always think it’s important to do something bigger than yourself,” said Alex Schmidt, a COC EMT student. “It’s the kind of world I want to be in.”

For college students looking for a career that offers diverse employment opportunities and a rewarding feeling of helping people, the world of emergency medicine is waiting.

College of the Canyons EMT certification program has taught EMTs the skills to assess a patient’s condition and manage respiratory, cardiac, and trauma emergencies for over 50 years.

The first part of the course is devoted to classroom learning focusing on medical thermology and theory, helping students learn to recognize emergencies and how to respond.

Classroom days are also devoted to understating medication use like oral glucose, Nitroglycerin and Epinephrine.

Every week, the second day of class is set aside for applying these theories in hands-on learning of skills using equipment EMTs use in the field, including blood pressure chuffs, backboards, and gurneys.

Skills days emphasize taking blood pressures carefully, listening for the systolic and diastolic pressures, learning how to palpate a weak and treading pulse, listening to lung sounds, and hearing the between wheezing in a patient with shortness of breath or fluid in the lungs.

“It’s extraordinary how much you can learn with even one month of being in the class, so I’ve learned a lot and it’s a great program for a student to join,” said Schmidt.

COC EMT students are practicing trauma assessments next to Towslet Hall on the Valencia campus on March/30/2022 photo by Jeff Lowzik (@canyon

Not all learning is on campus, as EMT students will also get the opportunity to work on clinical shifts with medical staff in an ER and ride along with an ambulance crew responding to emergency calls.

Sometimes getting to perform real patient care, including bandaging, splitting, and even CPR.

The purpose is to prepare the student for the reality that anything can happen at any minute, and an EMT must respond appropriately, which can be stressful.

“There is always kind of a source of nervousness in the back of my mind, but I’m a little bit of an adrenaline junkie; I live for the high-intensity jobs, so it’s definitely right up my alley,” says COC EMT student Christian Aguilar.

Once they complete the courses, a student will take a skills exam, along with a  written exam, which 90-95% pass on the first try. 

After that they will need to apply for national certification, once that is finished a student will be eligible to work as an EMT in California.

Once certified, EMTs will find opportunities for employment plentiful as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects an 11% rise in EMT-related jobs,

Also, states that the average base salary of an EMT in the LA area is around $20 an hour, outpacing the minimum wage by $5.

Being an EMT is not always positive, as those working in the field are exposed to traumatic events such as car crashes, violent crimes and mass casualty incidents.

A study by JEMS, a journal of emergency medical services, showed a burnout rate as high as 60% for those in the field. 

But even knowing the risks of the job some students press forward. 

“I want to work as an EMT for a bit, get some experience under my belt and then further my education in the paramedic or RN nursing program,” said Aguilar.

EMT program is a one-semester 9.5 credit class. It is recommended to take the medical Terminology course and Emergency responder course first, but it’s not required.

A blood pressure cuff on top of a stethoscope and some papers next to Towslet Hall on the Valencia campus on March/30/2022 photo by Jeff Lowzik (

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