In West Virginia’s first SkillsUSA Emergency Medical Technician competition, Gabriella Chico and Olivia Tennant from Monongalia County’s Technical Education Center (MTEC) bested all competitors and were named state champions.
SkillsUSA is a national organization with a stated mission of empowering its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens. The vocational enhancement group states it works to improve the quality of the nation’s future skilled workforce through the development of framework skills that include personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics.
Moving through local, regional and state competition, Chico and Tennant participated in a written exam and psychomotor skills testing, similar to what they will perform next year for their National Registry for Emergency Medical Technician Certification. They demonstrated first responder skills such as bleeding control, CPR, airway management in a full patient scenario.
State EMS Director Jody Ratliff is still challenged with low EMT and paramedic workforce numbers. He recently met with the student winners and said he was impressed by Chico and Tennant’s skill and enthusiasm.
“We went through a bunch of skills with them when they showed us what they did,” Ratliff said. “It was exciting to see two young ladies in high school, excited about EMS and wanting to get other high school students involved in EMS. If we can get them when they’re in high school and bring them out and put them through classes, that makes me excited.”
This was the first year for the EMT program at MTEC. It’s a two-year program for Monongalia County high school juniors and seniors where they can complete the required coursework, perform clinical requirements, and go through the testing process to obtain their National Registry Emergency Medical Technician Certification.
The center said the funding for this program was made possible from the governor’s initiative “Answer the Call,” meant to encourage EMT and paramedic recruitment and retention.
Ratliff said 2022-23 was the first time in at least 11 years that EMS gained personnel in West Virginia.
“We gained 391 EMT’s, 22 AMT’s and 109 paramedics,” Ratliff said. “We did lose 190 people, you’re gonna have people retire. But we gained more than what we lost.”
Chico and Tennant will go on to represent the Monongalia County Technical Education Center and West Virginia in the SkillsUSA EMT National competition held in Atlanta next month.