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Northern Michigan college to offer satellite programs to address paramedic shortage

paramedics standing outside ambulance doors
Mat Napo

There is a major shortage of emergency medical service workers across the state. But paramedic education programs require extensive certification and can be costly to start up. For that reason, they aren’t often offered in rural communities.

North Central Michigan College is now opening satellite programs in Gaylord and Alpena for students who currently don’t have access.

Lectures will be broadcasted out of the college's Petoskey campus and there will be additional training on-site.

North Central Michigan College is expanding its paramedic certification program to fill education gaps in rural northern Michigan. It’s one way to address the dangerous shortage of emergency medical service workers across the state.

Bill Forbush is the fire chief for the City of Alpena and leads the county’s EMS. He says now his employees won’t have to drive four hours a day to get educated.

“Each community wouldn’t have enough to support a whole program ideally. And so by working together with these remote sites now we can make one class with a dozen, 15 people in it, which is a good class size to teach.”

Instruction will come out of Petoskey and stream to satellite campuses in Alpena and Gaylord. The state’s Michigan Reconnect program can pay for local students' tuition and some ambulance services will foot extra costs.

Jim Cousino is the dean of Career and Technical Education.

“It’s unknown how many are going to want to move to a rural area in Alpena or other areas of the state. If they’re local individuals they’re more likely to want to stay near home,” he says.

Cousino says many employers are also offering sign-on bonuses and incentives because of the EMS worker shortage.

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IPR's Taylor Wizner is passionate about empowering communities through solid reporting.
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