Gateway has shifted the training and focus of its firefighting degree program to better respond to needs of employers and a changing student body. The result is graduates better trained to meet the needs of today’s emergency industry – who also have an edge over their peers when they apply for open positions.
The new Fire Medic associate degree offers students the ability to gain in firefighting and emergency medical system skills within the same program. Graduates are trained to earn an associate degree, complete five advanced firefighting tactics, earn a valid candidate physical ability test (CPAT) certificate as well as a paramedic license.
“The preferred candidate at area firefighting departments will have the firefighting skills and paramedic license we offer in this program,” says John Dahms, Gateway Fire program coordinator.
The program shift reflects a more foundational and performance-based approach to training. The student population in the program has changed over the past decade from a makeup of 50 percent already working in an area fire department to the current makeup of only about 5 percent of students already working in the field. That’s why the new makeup calls for offering those courses and providing skills training which prepare a student to successfully enter the workforce.
In addition, the program will focus on performance-based training, giving students a more real-world experience. Rather than offering training in one task independent of others needed at an actual fire or emergency scene, the training now allows for all those skills needed to be integrated – better replicating a real-world situation.
Gateway is one of only three colleges statewide offering the Fire Medic degree approach, one increasingly being called for by fire department officials.
“We’ve listened to our stakeholders – they have asked for the skills and training we are providing through the new program,” says Dahms. “This more closely simulates what our students will encounter once they are hired by a fire department. These are the skills they need to be employable.”
The new program offers students the opportunity to earn a paramedic license, which is required of firefighters at many area departments, as well as a CPAT certificate – providing them with the essential qualifications desired by many career fire departments.