Jacob Storey climbed down from a Perry Volunteer Fire Department truck during a visit to the Dallas County Hospital and Dallas County Emergency Medical Services building.

The Dallas Center-Grimes freshman said he enjoyed the tours and learning more about becoming an Emergency Medical Technician during the EMT and Health Occupations Career Day on March 12.

The career day was sponsored by Des Moines Area Community College Perry VanKirk Career Academy and around 30 students from surrounding schools attended. Students from Dallas Center-Grimes, Perry Panorama and Ogden learned more about the new EMT program being offered at DMACC during the morning session on the Perry campus.

The program, to be offered in fall of 2020, will allow around 15 local students to earn their EMT certificate. The EMT program joins DMACC’s other Career Academy programs where high school students can take credits for free.

The students then traveled to the Dallas County Hospital for a tour to see other Health Occupation fields. They learned about respiratory therapy, radiology, physical and occupational therapy and more.

The career day then moved to the Dallas County EMS building next to the hospital.

Mike Thomason, Dallas County EMS Director, gave students a first-hand look into the life of EMS.

He said Dallas County EMS is a county-owned ambulance service. The only part of Dallas County that they don’t cover, he said, is what is covered by city-owned services in West Des Moines, Waukee, Urbandale and Clive.

Thomason said that out of around 68,000 people in the county, they cover around 35,000 to 40,000. Dallas County EMS runs around 2,700 to 2,900 calls a year. Of those, Thomason said, they transport people on around 2,000 calls.

Dallas County EMS responds to 911 calls as well as some scheduled transports between a nursing home to a hospital. They have two stations, one in Perry and one in Adel.

The Perry station always has two-person crew on duty, while Adel has a four-person crew. Thomason said the crew members live at the station every third day as they work a 24-hour shift.

He added that Dallas County EMS works closely with the Perry Police Department and Perry Volunteer Fire Department.

The career day students then toured an ambulance and a Perry Volunteer Fire Truck.

Eddie Diaz, Perry VanKirk Career Academy Director, said the new program will have six credits of EMT. He added that they are working on one credit on fire science/career exploration to give students a taste of the fire side.

Thomason was happy to hear that DMACC is looking to add an EMT program. Especially, he told the students, because becoming an EMT is the first step to becoming a paramedic.

“Super excited. I think it’s going to be a benefit to both first responders and to us,” Thomason said of Dallas County EMS.

He added that the few people available to fill open EMS jobs are going to the Metro area instead of staying in their local county or city.

“There’s a shortage all across the board,” Thomason said.

Paramedic Jess Pfrimmer thinks that the DMACC EMT program will be a great one as students can start early in the healthcare field. The program will also help on the fire department side.

Assistant Fire Chief Brian Eiteman said becoming an EMT/Firefighter One is the first step for anyone wanting to become a career firefighter.

Something that DC-G freshman Storey is interested in becoming.

“It’s a lot of fun. I learned about all this stuff to prepare me for the future. That’s really awesome, Storey said.

Thomason echoed his comments about how awesome the EMT and Health Occupation Career Day was on March 12.

“I commend DMACC for holding this,” Thomason said of the EMT and Health Occupation Career Day.