(ABILENE, Texas) – When a medical crisis occurs, one of the first phone calls is to 911.

Emergency medical technicians are among the first responders on the scene to help a patient. Texas State Technical College’s Emergency Medical Services students use online learning to prepare them for a medical situation.

Abilene EMS instructor James Pitts said video is being used to help current students with skills they may need during a medical emergency, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Using video is nothing new to students, he said. It is essential to the program, which is available in Abilene, Brownwood and Harlingen.

“We have been looking for quality videos to supplement the students’ skills,” Pitts said of working online only at this time.

The program has a three-step approach: online learning, classroom lectures to reinforce what was learned online, and lab work. Pitts said students have several resources they can use on their own, including online access to the course’s publisher, Jones & Bartlett.

“They can navigate to interactive lectures. They can read chapters and engage in feedback online,” he said.

In the classroom, Pitts said instructors and students discuss what was provided online.

“They spend the rest of the day developing skills in the lab,” he said. “There has been a learning gap for our students to adjust to this way of learning. I think this will be better for our program.”

When TSTC began remote classes last month, Pitts said the students were already in a “good spot.”

“We used the tools that were in place, but since we were not on campus, we had to modify things,” he said.

Technology is used for live lectures as instructors and students continue classes.

“We did not want to lose that live engagement with the instructors. That was important to us,” Pitts said.

According to Pitts, it is important for students to continue using online resources at home.

“All this is preparing them for coming back to school and putting their skills to use,” Pitts said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

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