JEFFERSON — Jefferson High School seniors can now graduate with an extra skill set in their repertoire, thanks to a Career and Technology Education (CTE) class added this year.

A handful of seniors are taking the school’s newest health science CTE class, an emergency medical technician course, that helps them earn their EMT certification at the end of the year.

Students in the dual-credit class with Panola College spend the first semester in the classroom and the second performing hands-on clinicals at area hospitals, as well as ride-alongs with professional EMTs.

Jefferson ISD Director of Cirriculum Lynn Phillips said Panola College instructor Ronnie Morton, who teaches the class, spoke with students last year as juniors. More than a dozen of the 85 students showed interest, she said.

Phillips said the school currently offers a Certified Nursing Assistant program and wanted to find a health science CTE course that would draw interest from more male students.

“Brianne Giddens, our Health Science Instructor mentioned it and Mr. Morton came and pitched it to the students,” she said. “These kids are really excited to participate in this year-long course and after they graduate, they can get a job as an EMT or go on and become a paramedic.”

Phillips said it’s important for students to pair their academics with real-world experience from career fields they have an interest in.

“It’s important for them to have these skills, in addition to the academics. This gives them an earlier start on life after high school, whether that be going on to college or going into the workforce,” she said. “We want to combine the academic with the workforce experience so we can set them up for success.”

Morton, a retired Marshall firefighter, and current Panola College Chair Person of the Emergency Medical Technology Program, said clinicals in the spring semester will consist of 72 hours of training riding with an ambulance responding to calls and 72 hours working in a local hospital emergency room.

“This gives them that hands on experience and at the end of the year long course, they will take their state certification and they will take their National Registry of EMT that allows them to get certified in other states such as Louisiana and Oklahoma,” he said. “Then, they will be an EMT.”

Morton said as an EMT, they can work on an ambulance providing basic life saving skills and CPR and assist paramedics on scene.

If the students continue to become a paramedic, they can administer medication, intubate patients and perform other medical procedures.