1. #1
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    Question paramedic or fire science degree

    i was wondering if there is a best route to get all of your certifications and/or education. i want to eventually get a bachellors in some aspect of fire science, but i am also intersted in getting the paramedic cert also. which should i aim for first if i already have an entry level job lined up? which, if any will give me a better chance of being promoted sooner or getting better pay? also, if i get my paramedic certification, will my duties be different than other firefighters, meaning will i have a different role at a fire than someone who doesnt have paramedic cert? i know this may sound kind of stupid, but it is just a hypothetical situation right now. i have yet to go through the fire academy.

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    From all the information I have seen on firefighting jobs in Florida, being a paramedic is a requirement.

    I would go for the paramedic certification 1st to be considered for the job. You can always go for the fire science degree later on...you have your whole career ahead of you!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    If your area is like mine, you will need to be a Paramedic just to get hired. Nearly every full-time department in my area now requires this.

    It's a shame in my opinion. It seems like they've forgotten about firefighting. Firefighters don't get killed on EMS calls, they get killed at fires. I think the emphasis should be on firefighting skills.
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

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    I agree with the above responses. You will likely need the Paramedic license to get hired. Once you get hired, many departments offer assistance towards getting a degree in Fire Science. The Department that I am on pays $800 per year towards classes. The next city down pays for all of your classes and books. I believe there are many colleges that have BS programs in Ememgency Medicine and through that you can attain the Paramedic License.

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    Something not brought up is the fact that in many parts of the US, there are no longer 'certificate' paramedic programs; they are degree programs only. I guarantee, if you get hired by a department before being certified as a paramedic, they will NOT give you the time off for two years to get your paramedic.

    Unfortunately, the trend is turning towards EMT-I being the 'minimum'level of ALS provider so paramedics are becoming quite a commodity!
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    GET YOUR BLUE PATCH FIRST!!!! I don't know of anywhere here in Florida that gives preferance to degree holders over paramedics. The majority of paid depts here are dual role and thier seems to be a shortage of medics, at least down here in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties. When you get your blue patch you can basicly pick and choose your departments, in some cases you may have depts fighting over you! Most depts I know of will pay for your classes once your off probation which will save you a lot of money. Don't worry about taking specialty classes like Haz-Mat, or specialized rescue either, concentrate on becoming a paramedic first, besides your fire minimum standards it is the most important cert to hold here. As far as your role on calls, it depends on your department. I am usualy on the box but I do rotate to the engine from time to time. Most depts here use the rescue crew as an extention of the truck company, which means you will be doing search, RIT, ventilation, and salvage and overhaul or you may be assigned to patients or be rehab. It all depents on how you are due at the fire. For the rest of your calls you will be perfoming EMS duties. You may need a degree for promotion but you will probably need to be on for at least 5 years first, plenty of time to go back and finnish college. Oh, and yes your blue patch will earn you more cash!

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    Originally posted by WTFD10
    ...Firefighters don't get killed on EMS calls, they get killed at fires...
    Better go back and look at the fatality reports, think you might be surprised where firefighters die.

    Originally posted by Kobersteen
    I guarantee, if you get hired by a department before being certified as a paramedic, they will NOT give you the time off for two years to get your paramedic.
    Kobersteen - your Brothers to the south (Norfolk) not only get time off, but the City is paying the entire tab. Currently have 33 members in paramedic school, all being done ON-DUTY, including all clinical and precepted ride-time. When they successfully pass and get cut loose as ALS techs, most will get about an 18% pay raise. Wish I had those options when I went through.

    gassman - My opinion is to get the paramedic cert 1st. It increases your marketability to get hired. A degree may help in some areas in getting hired, but it is more likely to be beneficial come promotion time. As far as duties, look at the departments you are interested in because firefighter/paramedics have different assignments based on the particular department. For example, a firefighter/paramedic in Norfolk rides 12 hours on an ambulance and 12 hours on an engine, ladder, or squad (24 hours shifts). It makes for a nice change of pace during the shift. In other cities in our area, a firefighter/paramedic is assigned to 24 hours on an ambulance and does not necessarily get time on an engine, ladder, or squad. Also, before getting hired as a firefighter/paramedic, find out if you must maintain that certification for your entire career or if there is a minimum time.

    Decide what is important to you, what you want to do with the paramedic cert, then go from there. Good luck...

    John

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    The "new" Department of Transportation EMT/Paramedic program has forced advanced EMS education into the colleges and universities.

    During the past four years the National Fire Academy has been working with the FESCHE group to update the fire science curricula, the first significant change in the fire science programs since the original curricula was developed in the late 1960's.

    If you goal is a career as a municipal firefighter, get your paramedic certification as soon as possible. It will place you at the front of the hiring process and is a skill that most metro fire departments are scrambling to fill. This is especially true in Florida!

    Your job may or may not be different from non-paramedics. If the department is running ambulances, then plan to spend the first four years on the ambo. While there has been much crying and nashing of teeth about this, it really is not much different than the firefighters hired 30 years ago and having to start on the ambulance.

    Starting the job with your National Registry EMT-Paramedic certification means that you can spend your time on the job preparing for fire promotions.

    Most college paramedic programs result in a two-year associate degree. Get that, and then consider getting a bachelor degree in fire science management from the Degrees at a Distance program.

    You may need to take three or four fire science classes from a local community college, but you will get the best bang for your personal education bucks. Some (or a lot) of the information you need to memorize for fire department promotional exams (to engineer, Lieutenant, etc.) will be found in the fire science classes.

    By the way, as a group paramedics perform MUCH BETTER on fire department promotional exams than non-paramedics. So yes, becoming a paramedic will help your promotion potential.

    Mike

    Michael Ward, MS, MIFireE
    Fire Science Program Head
    Northern Virginia Community College
    Last edited by Mike Ward; 11-30-2002 at 06:53 AM.

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    I'm with the crowd on paramedic first - but don't lose sight of the bachelors degree.

    When you get to that point, consider the Degrees at a Distance program through the US Fire Administration. There are plenty of details on their website, but the basics are: you do your "general education requirements" at a local college or university; your fire-specific courses are provided through a host university, some by internet, some by mail and email; your paramedic courses will (should) count as part of your general education requirements.

    The only people who will discourage you from getting a college education are not the ones you need to be listening to (on most subjects, not just career advancement).

    Best of luck.
    ullrichk
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