JEFFERSON — Jefferson High School students now have the chance to earn their emergency medical technician certification upon graduation through a partnership between the district and Panola College.

“This is our first year of the program here at Jefferson High School, and we are also doing this EMT program at Timpson High School,” Panola College EMT Instructor Ronnie Morton said Tuesday. “These are seniors who will be 18 near the time of graduation, so they can take the National Registry Test. Once they pass that test, they have to apply to the state to be able to work.”

The Jefferson High School Career and Technology Education program has five seniors in its first year of the program, which is a yearlong course.

“The fall semester is spent learning the coursework and terms, learning the equipment and procedures, and the spring semester is applying those skills in clinicals,” Morton said. “The students will soon begin their clinicals, using the skills they’ve learned in the first semester. We will be doing clinicals here in Jefferson with Christus EMS, Allegiance in Carthage, Marshall Fire Department and UT Health Center in Carthage.”

By the time the students finish their 168 hours of course work and pass the National Registry Test, they can go straight to work as an EMT.

“Christus Champion EMS is hiring 19-year-old EMTs to drive EMS,” Morton said. “That’s what we’ve been telling them. They can work with an ambulance service, as an EMT and assist at a scene. The paramedics are the ones who administer medications, but as an EMT, they can assist the paramedic by controlling bleeding, administering CPR, administering Epipens and driving the ambulance.”

Morton said hospitals also are hiring EMTs as emergency room technicians.

“They can go to work at a hospital with their EMT certification,” he said. “A lot of hospitals are hiring at 18 years old.”

Morton said an EMT’s salary varies depending on the company and location where they work, but most can start out between $8 and $10 per hour, with benefits.

“If they want, they can also go on to become a paramedic,” he said. “With one more year of college at Panola College, they can graduate with their paramedic’s certification.”

The EMT program at Jefferson High School is largely covered in cost by the district, with students paying a portion, about $200, plus the cost of their uniform.

“If they wanted to go on to become a firefighter, the state of Texas has a program where they can continue their education to become a firefighter tuition-free, and their lab fees will be waived. That program is for firefighters and police officers.”

Jefferson High School students interested in the EMT program should talk to their school counselor before the start of their senior year.