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Upstate's new paramedic program intensifies training

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Upstate Medical University has introduced a new paramedic program to Central New York that offers intensive training in life-safety skills in actual emergency situations, as well as in a hospital environment with simulated patients. Paramedics are among the most highly trained pre-hospital care providers.

Eighteen individuals are enrolled in the first paramedic program Upstate has offered in several years. The 15-month program will train and prepare participants to take the state and national certifying examinations in the Emergency Medical Services field as Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic.

"With the recent commemoration of 9-11, we are reminded of the bravery and life and death situations that first responders, especially paramedics, face every day to save lives," said Douglas Sandbrook, director of Upstate's paramedic program and liaison to the EMS community. "It is imperative that the training be intense and as comprehensive."

Backed by the resources of Upstate, the paramedic program enables students to work alongside leading faculty in the field, as well as train in Upstate's advanced Emergency Medicine Simulation Technology and Training Center, a dedicated human-patient simulation lab for emergency medicine with hospital and pre-hospital environments.

A highlight of the course is the opportunity it provides trainees to experience life-safety situations in a variety of settings, from the rural countryside to urban environments.

Recently, the class visited the Syracuse Fire Department training academy at 312 State Fair Blvd. to learn about confined-space, below-grade and high-angle rescues.

"Only the most highly trained and specialized rescue teams can perform these dangerous rescue operations," said the Christian Knutsen, M.D., the program's medical director. "We prepare our students to operate safely and work alongside these teams to provide the medical support necessary to ensure successful operations and management of patients."

Sandbrook said the Syracuse Fire Department is a key partner in the Upstate program's success. "The Syracuse Fire Department has been an invaluable asset for our program and through our partnership we prepare these paramedic students to respond to an array of hazardous situations." He also praised area law enforcement and other life safety agencies for their support of Upstate's paramedic program.

Syracuse Fire Chief Mark McLees said his department is pleased to be involved with training the paramedic students at Upstate. "We appreciate the commitment and dedication it takes to become a paramedic and we are pleased to be a part of any opportunity to broaden their educational base. These unique training opportunities will prepare the future paramedic to gain a better understanding of multi-agency and multi-disciplinary incidents. The future of emergency services is interagency cooperation and opportunities like these further this tenet."

Sandbrook said the call of duty for someone to be trained in paramedics is strong. "There is a keen desire among those called for this line of work to be of service to others," he said. "This program will ensure than when these paramedics are out on the scene of a fire, a car crash, industrial accident or attending to an individual with a medical condition, they have the knowledge to save lives away from the hospital. They must be able to manage these highly stressful critical care situations."

Upstate's paramedics program began Aug. 23 and runs through November 2012. Students must pass state certification exams to be employed as paramedics.

Central New York boasts more than 35 agencies certified by the state health department to provide paramedic-level care.

For more information about Upstate's paramedic program visit: http://www.upstate.edu/emergency/education/emstat/courses/paramedic.php