JEFFERSON — Jefferson High School seniors can now graduate with an extra skill set in their repertoire, thanks to a brand new Career and Technology Education (CTE) class added this year at Jefferson High School.

A handful of seniors this year are taking advantage of the high school’s newest health science CTE class, an EMT class, that allows them the opportunity to earn their EMT certification upon completion of the year long course.

The dual credit course with Panola College in Carthage, allows seniors to spend the first semester of the class learning the classroom work and the second semester of the EMT class performing hands on clinicals at area hospitals, as well as ride alongs with professional EMTs in an ambulance.

“This is the first year of EMT class and Mr. Ronold Morton from Panola College who teaches the class here, came and spoke with our then juniors at the end of the school year last year and we had about 13 out of 85 students express interest,” Jefferson ISD Director of Curriculum Lynn Phillips said on Wednesday.

Phillips said the school currently offers a Certified Nursing Assistant program and wanted to find a health science CTE course that would draw interest from more male students.

“Brianne Giddens, our Health Science Instructor mentioned it and Mr. Morton came and pitched it to the students,” she said. “These kids are really excited to participate in this year long course and after they graduate, they can get a job as an EMT, or go on and become a paramedic.”

Phillips said it’s important for students to pair their academics with real world experience from career fields they have an interest in.

“It’s important for them to have these skills, in addition to the academics. This gives them an earlier start on life after high school, whether that be going on to college or going into the workforce,” she said. “We want to combine the academic with the workforce experience so we can set them up for success.”

Morton, a retired Marshall Firefighter, and current Panola College Chair Person of the Emergency Medical Technology Program, said clinicals in the spring semester will consist of 72 hours of training riding with an ambulance responding to calls and 72 hours working in a local hospital Emergency Room.

“They will be checking patient’s vitals in the ER and responding to calls with EMTs,” he said. “This gives them that hands on experience and at the end of the year long course, they will take their state certification and they will take their National Registry of EMT that allows them to get certified in other states such as Louisiana and Oklahoma. Then, they will be an EMT.”

Morton said as an EMT, they can work on an ambulance, providing basic life saving skills and CPR, as well as assist paramedics on scene.

If the students go on to further education by becoming a paramedic, then they can administer medication, intubate patients and other medical procedures.