Real World Scenarios Play Key Role in CFCC’s Paramedic Training

A mother and her two children need help and they need it fast. While driving to the grocery store, they swerved to avoid hitting a dog in the road, but lost control of their car and collided into a building. The mother is conscious, but dazed. Another person is pinned underneath the car and his condition is not known. A bystander sees the wreck and calls 911. 

This is exactly the type of scenario students at Cape Fear Community College experience while training to become a certified paramedic.

According to paramedic instructor Thomas Herron, it’s these kinds of real-world scenarios that help get the students ready to respond to a real emergency.

“What we are trying to do is prepare students to deal with the unexpected,” said Thomas Herron, CFCC’s paramedic coordinator.

While every situation is different, there are basic principles that students learn that will help them do their jobs which will save lives and prevent further injury until a patient gets to the hospital.

To become a certified paramedic, students must go through three levels of training.

There are 3 levels of initial EMS training.  All students must start at the EMT level.  The EMT course is a 200 hour, 1 semester course.  After completing the EMT course, students can choose to take the EMT-Intermediate course which is a 6 month, 306 hour course or, after completing an Anatomy and Physiology course enter the Paramedic Program.  The Paramedic Program is an 11 month, 1200 hour course that covers the most advanced skills and knowledge available to a prehospital provider.

In the first introductory EMT course, students learn:

-       CPR

-       Assessing patients (figure out what is wrong)

-       Vital Signs

-       Medical Emergencies

-       Traumatic Emergencies

-       Pediatric Emergencies

-       Childbirth

The intermediate EMT course covers:

-       All EMT Skills reviewed and refined

-       IV Skills and Medication Administration

-       ~ 20 Advanced Medications

-       Advanced Airway Skills such as endotracheal intubation

-       Basic EKG Skills

The final paramedic course includes:

-       All EMT and Intermediate Skills reviewed and refined.

-       Anatomy and Physiology

-       Advanced Airway Skills including endotracheal intubation, nasal intubation, surgical airways and chest decompression

-       IV Skills and Medication Administration

-       ~ 160 Advanced Medications

-       Advanced Cardiology Skills including 3-Lead EKG Skills, 12-Lead EKG Skills and Advanced Cardiac Life Support

-       Advanced Trauma Care including PHTLS Specialty Course

-       Advanced Pediatric Skills including Pediatric Advanced Life Support and PEPP

Herron explained that the textbook knowledge is only one part of the training. The skills most students find most challenging is learning how to talk to patients, who are often under stress and in pain.

He said that these problems areas are addressed using numerous practice scenarios in the classroom, hospital and field rotations for direct exposure, our SimMan 3G simulator and exercises like those held this weekend.

When combining all initial course enrollments, Continuing Medical Education (CME) enrollments and specialty course enrollments, the EMS Program serves approximately 1,000 students per year. 

Herron added that there is a high demand for quality paramedic in our area.  The most recent Paramedic course had 18 graduates of which 15 are currently employed either full-time or part-time in the immediate area.  Across NC and the US, there is national shortage of paramedics rivaling that often heard of with nurses.

For more details about CFCC’s EMT and paramedic training, visit