Bexar County high schools training next generation of EMTs

With a shortage of emergency medical services workers impacting rural Bexar County, teachers hope these courses help

SAN ANTONIO – There’s currently a shortage of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) affecting rural areas in Bexar County, but local high schools are working to combat that with their training programs.

These photos look like your “average” classroom, except for the high-tech mannequin in the center of the room.

“We started last year during COVID,” said Deborah Ramirez, the magnet coordinator for Edison High School.

Ramirez spent decades working on an ambulance before bringing the EMT program to the high school last year.

“We had 13 kids go through last year. Three passed, and one, two went off to college. One of them is actually working for Acadian Ambulance,” she said.

Last year, the class was a hybrid mix of in-person and virtual learning. This year, all 12 students are learning in-person full-time.

Though the program is new to Edison, it’s something that’s already seen success at other schools.

“I have 26 students, which is about double the norm of the past,” said Darcie Dear, the EMT program instructor at Brennan High School.

The program with Northside ISD has been around for five years.

They’ve seen about 100 students complete the program, and about 50% have entered the field.

Both teachers hope these programs will benefit both the students and the emergency medical services field.

“I’m hoping, obviously, when we get these students certified that they’re going to go out into the workforce and start filling in some of these vacancies,” Dear said.

“We can help feed those shortages by offering the kids the program here, and then they go right out and get the job,” Ramirez added.

To join the Edison EMT program, students must be seniors and pass the prerequisites.

“They also have to complete a minimum of 150 hours in the classroom, 48 hours on the ambulance and 24 hours in an emergency room,” Ramirez said.

Once they pass the class, students are off to take the state certification. From there, if they pass, they can walk across the stage straight into a career.

April Hernandez changed schools and drivers almost a half-hour every day to be a part of the Edison program.

“It’s the best decision I made so far just because I do the commitment for myself, and it just it’s a future for me,” Hernandez said.

Rodrigo Aguilar, part of the Brennan High program, says it’s rigorous but keeps you focused on the end goal.

“Being able to respond when they call 911 is something that I want to do,” Aguilar said.

Seniors don’t have to attend Edison High School already. They can switch schools to be a part of the EMT program.


EMS shortage challenging rural areas nationwide, including Bexar County

About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.