Senior Taylor Paradoski hopes to become a physician's assistant after college, which is why she enrolled in Elon University’s Emergency Medical Technician course. 

“Emergency medicine was very interesting to me because it would allow me to truly experience what happens before a patient even gets to the hospital and the care they are given in sometimes intense and time critical situations,” Paradoski said. 

But Paradoski’s plans were disrupted, when classes moved online because of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. 

Paradoski decided to take the EMT course to get a jumpstart on learning patient care. She said now that the class has moved online she is missing the hands-on learning the class offers. 

“We are obviously unable to meet together and learn skills hands-on, which is unfortunate because doing things hands-on really brings ideas all together,” Paradoski said. 

Elon’s EMT course is a hybrid course — taught partially in person and online —  in partnership with Alamance Community College. The class is semesterly, with 16 Elon students currently in the class.

While a portion of the course was taught online, the class completely going online has its challenges for Alex Della-Penna, the program director for emergency services at Alamance Community College. Della-Penna said the program prides itself on how hands-on it is, but students currently can’t do in-person labs and ambulance ride-alongs have been postponed. 

Della-Penna has tried to replicate the hands-on labs, by providing students with YouTube videos of scenarios or written examples of situations students must respond to. But the challenges of not being face-to-face is something that Paradoski felt when the course was moved online. Paradoski said training to be an EMT now is more important than ever, because of the coronavirus.

“With all the uncertainty right now, they need more hands-on deck now more than ever,” Paradoski said. “I think for EMTs in general right now it is scary times, but we hope that everyone can remain safe.” 

In order to become an EMT students must pass the course with an overall average of 80% or higher and meet all requirements of the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services. A certain number of training hours in areas such as airway ventilation, trauma and pediatrics is required in order to pass the class. Once students pass the class they’re eligible to take the North Carolina EMT exam or the National Registry EMT exam in order to become certified. 

Despite the original uncertainty of how the program being totally online would affect its students, Paradoski says she still feels prepared to become an EMT.  

“This program does a really great job at making sure that you feel comfortable running any scenario that you could get,” Paradoski said. “While it was daunting at first, I love that each week they make us run through a scenario on the spot that they create and practice going through what you would do in that situation.”

Della-Penna said students will get the chance to fully complete the course and get certified. He is unsure when ride-alongs will begin again, but hopes that when the fall class starts they will be able to be back in person.