WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Vernon College is bringing back its paramedic training and is planning to hold its first class of paramedics since the program ended six years ago.

The pandemic hit frontline workers hard, and this program making a comeback will help local paramedic staff as well as the public.

For over 25 years Vernon College provided paramedic training classes for many students, and it’s coming back after closing down in 2016.

“This is the return of the paramedic program [through] Vernon College into our area, and parademics are the highest level of pre-hospital care provider that’s able to run on an ambulance, so they are the highest level of care,” Paramedic Program Coordinator Nicholas Long said. “People respond to their houses and emergencies, so it is great to be able to return the education back to this area, so we can start producing more paramedics for our area.”

Students will go through rigorous courses to prepare them for any situation.

“In their training, they get hands-on,” Long said. “Not only are we in there in the classroom teaching them, they are out there making practical application.”

The pandemic put many health care workers on the frontlines to help others, and many have not stopped working since then, causing a shortage of paramedics.

“This has been a big strain,” Director of Archer City Ambulance Pat Bryan said. “One week we are working 51 hours on the truck, the next week we work 117, and so it’s a little exhausting.”

“We had to go to work whenever everybody else was shutdown at home, so it’s a large need,” Long said. “These paramedics, EMTs that are working out on the field right now are tired, they are exhausted. They been emotionally and physically strained because of the demands of the job when Covid first started.”

Long said training upcoming paramedics will take a load off the demand of the ones working in the field right now.

“Vernon College is the only area-wide college that has had paramedic class, which they haven’t had in several years now,” Bryan said. “To get local personnel for any service, we are totally dependent upon that program, whether it’s basics, advanced, paramedic, we are all on a paramedic shortage right now; we are down to two parademics.”

With such a severe shortage, Bryan is hopeful for the program’s return.

“I’m very excited that’s coming back,” Bryan said. “[It] gives us all a little bit of hope that maybe things will start to get back to normal.”

Classes are set to start Monday, August 22. The paramedic program will take two years to complete for a brand new student.