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First-Ever High School EMT Class Still Has Pulse

MYERSTOWN, Pa. -- The Elco school board is considering plans to continue, at least in some form, the Emergency Medical Technician certification program at Elco High School.

Elco's was the first high school-based EMT course in the nation, district officials have said, and the class has been in jeopardy since teacher Dave Kirchner stated his intentions to retire at the end of the school year.

The program, which affords students the opportunity to earn their EMT certification and is also an academic science course, received strong public support from community members at last month's school board meeting. The community as a whole expressed support of the program not only because of its value to students, but because of the value to the community since it has trained a number of local EMTs.

Superintendent Richard Nilsen told the school board this week that he supports the continuation of the program - even if it costs the district more money.

"This will affect staff as well as the budget," he told the board. "It will cost additional money."

The primary challenge facing the district is Kirchner's unique credentials. He is certified by the state Department of Health as an EMT instructor but is also certified by the state Department of Education as a science teacher. The board recognized that few replacement candidates, if any, will possess such credentials.

Elco plans to request special approval from the Department of Education to continue the program, with a certified EMT instructor receiving a unique certification from the Department of Education so students may continue to earn science credits while taking the class.

Nilsen also shared with the board that he and Kirchner have had discussions about Kirchner's returning next year to teach the class as an hourly employee while the district searches for long-term options to preserve the EMT program.

The subject is expected to receive further debate at the school board's meeting Monday night.
 



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