COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)– Columbus Fire and EMS and Columbus Technical and Agricultural Education have established a pipeline EMT program with Shaw High school.
The program was established last year at Shaw High School, allowing the fire department to provide support, mentoring, training and clinical agreements for the required ambulance ride-along for EMT students.
The Columbus Fire and EMS has also developed a Fire Fighter Pathway program at Northside High School. From February 2020 to May 2020, the Fire Department conducted interviews with the schools graduating seniors who had an interest in becoming a Fire Fighter or an EMT.
Students interested in the program began working out with the Fire Department on Saturdays so they could prepare for the combat challenge. More than 25 students from each high school participated in the program, competing for the position of Fire Fighter with a starting salary of $40,000.
In July, the Columbus Fire and EMS offered two graduating seniors the position. Aaden Austin from Northside High School and Elijah Outlaw from Shaw High School. Both candidates said they didn’t think they would get chosen.
“Surprisingly, I was number one out of how many people that were out there and I really didn’t expect to meet, to do that good. I just kept coming and I just kept doing better every time so I kind of expected to be on there but I also had my doubts,” Outlaw said.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it, I was really pessimistic, but at the same time I was trying to be as real as possible because I know that this is a career and it’s not just a job, but I knew what I had was empathy and understanding,” Austin said.
Both Austin and Outlaw had to go through rigorous training for the position. Fire and EMS officials weren’t just looking for the candidate’s physical abilities but also their character. Both Outlaw and Austin started their first day as firefighters & EMTs on August 16. The Columbus Fire and EMS plans on continuing the program and hopes to expand to more schools in the future.