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WHS Certifies Students in Emergency Medicine

Waller High School’s (WHS) Career and Technical Education (CTE) program is dedicated to improving academic and technical educational opportunities for students through rigorous and relevant career preparation. As part of that goal, WHS offers nine Health Science classes where students can earn 10 certifications. Most recently, Practicum in Health Science-Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) was added in 2018-19 after Instructor Natalie Miller and Waller ISD CTE Coordinator Shelly Elizalde saw a need to offer students another medical certification course.

“We offer courses like Pharmacy Technician and Certified Nurse Aide but we can only accept a certain number of students at a time,” Miller said. “I knew we needed to open another class so more students can have the opportunity to enter into Health Science.”

To be able to offer the course, Miller had to become certified as an EMT, which required five months of classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“It was a bit rough balancing work and school, but I knew it would be best for students,” Miller said. “It was completely worth it.”

This year eight students are enrolled in the EMT course. For some students, completing the course is the first step toward their chosen careers.

“It’s a good starter for the career path that I want to take,” Tyler Lowery said. “I’m going to Texas A&M to major in Biomedical Science and then plan on going to medical school to focus on trauma surgery.”

Other students decided to enroll because of personal experiences that greatly affected their lives.

“Two years ago I had to be transported downtown and the EMTs in the ambulance saved my life so I knew this is what I wanted to do,” McKenna Turpin said.

During the course, students complete basic EMT training where they are certified as entry-level EMTs. With this certification, students are able to work as EMTs but are limited in performing non-invasive procedures. Miller works with Quality EMS to provide the necessary training to students where they are required to attend 90 percent of class time to be eligible for certification. Students go through a rigorous schedule of tests and quizzes of 40 chapters before they can take the National Registry Exam. On top of class, students have to log 48 hours on an ambulance, 48 hours in an emergency room, and 16 hours in labor and delivery. For their ambulance hours, students work 12-hour shifts with Waller County EMS and are required to complete five patient transports. After graduation, students can continue their education to be certified as Intermediate EMTs or full Paramedics.

New to the EMT program is the chance to receive an electrocardiogram (EKG) certification. Now students can receive two certifications through the course. An EKG measures the electrical activity of the heart through electrodes placed on the skin. WHS was able to purchase an EKG machine for practice thanks to a grant from the Tomball Health Coalition. Students work on three modules before practicing on a test dummy. Later in the year, Miller hopes to set a day where teachers come in for EKG readings for students to get more practice and teachers receive a free EKG checkup.

“It is rare for a high school to have an EMT program so we are very fortunate to have this opportunity,” Miller said.