ST. AMANT — Learning emergency medical skills in a classroom is a far cry from what happens in the back of an ambulance.
But before the end of the school year, at least 12 St. Amant High School students will have put their life-saving skills to the test on a ride-along shift with an ambulance crew, said Andrew LeFebvre, who teaches the first responder and emergency medical technician certification classes at St. Amant.
First responders are trained in how to respond in emergency medical situations, LeFebvre said, and EMT training is one step more advanced. Both classes, he said, participate in ambulance ride-alongs.
“That’s really make it or break it time,” said LeFebvre, who is the sole EMT teacher in Ascension schools. “We’re just starting to arrange those ride-alongs for the fall.
“This is really where you learn if it’s something you want to do or not,” he said. “That hands-on experience really gives you an idea of what it’s like.”
While his classroom is at St. Amant High School, LeFebvre draws students from Dutchtown and East Ascension high schools, as well.
The EMT course is one school-year long, LeFebvre said, and participants can take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam before they graduate to earn national certification — provided that they’re at least 18 years old.
“If they’re not old enough before that time, we have to hold their scores until they turn 18,” he said.
LeFebvre said because he teaches in a high school setting, he has to keep a number of “masters” happy.
He must answer to his administrators at St. Amant High School, the central office and Ascension Parish School Board, the State Department of Education and the Louisiana Bureau of Emergency Medical Services.
On top of that, he said, he has to reassure parents that he’s not giving their children more than they can handle in high school.
It’s a delicate balance, he said, but since the program was started at St. Amant about five years ago, it has grown into a dynamic partnership between the Department of Education and the Bureau of EMS.
“It made both departments come together and come up with a way to adapt EMT training to a high school setting,” he said.
Most of his students probably won’t have lifelong careers as EMTs, he said, though the program is a valuable training ground for students who want to go into any medical career.