Only 1 of 9 passes both written and practical exams
County ambulance crews may wait as long as a year to boost their numbers after eight of nine students in a basic EMS class failed to pass their initial certification exams.
“Marion County EMS is still going to sponsor them with hopes they pass so they can join our group,” EMS director Brandy McCarty said. “They are studying and practicing with hopes to retest soon.”
Taught by former EMS director JoAnn Knak, the intent of the class was to build the ranks of certified EMT volunteers. Knak’s class took the practical exam April 18 at Hillsboro Elementary School.
Once a student takes either the written or practical exam they have one year to pass both, said Board of Emergency Medical Services Deputy Director Curt Shreckengaust. Knak’s students will have to do so by next April.
Practical exams involve demonstration of emergency response skills in six areas. Students must pass all six areas or they fail the exam and have to retest on failed areas.
“On the practical side of things, you have three attempts after your initial, so you have four attempts at taking your practical exam,” Shreckengaust said.
It’s up to the students to schedule computer-based written exams at a testing center, and Shreckengaust said just 63 percent pass on the first try. Waiting to test increases failure rates, he said.
“Some students, they jump right out and get on that written test as soon as they can,” Shreckengaust said. “The others, which are probably the majority, take their practical exam, and then they filter in for the written. The longer you wait, the less chance you have of passing.”
County students who need to retake the practical exam have study sessions in Florence once or twice weekly, McCarty said.
McCarty said she will assist as best she can, as new volunteer EMTs will benefit county services.
“The more people we have to utilize, the longer we can keep a volunteer service active, and that’s my goal,” McCarty said.
At this point, however, students have to take responsibility for passing the exams, she said.
“You can have the information and we can help you, but you have to be willing to study it,” McCarty said. “You have to be willing to do the work on your own, too.”