CATEC brings back EMT program

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The EMT program at the Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center, or CATEC, was brought back after it was gone for a couple of years.

Catherine Gardner, the new instructor for the program, said this program experienced its lowest point.

"It was three, four years ago that they did have a program, but the instructor moved on," said Gardener. "They have not had a program here for several years."

She taught a high school EMT course in Stafford County for 10 years.

She moved to Charlottesville last July to revitalize the EMT program at CATEC.

Through interactive lessons, Gardner said this program sets her group of high schoolers apart from the average classroom experience.

"They're getting an education that's a little different from high school classes," she said. "They're going to get a whole lot of critical thinking, very hands on and a lot of adult experiences."

Gardener also said their lessons will go beyond the classroom.

"They're going to go out on clinicals with ambulances and get to go into the emergency room," said Gardener. "They get to see a lot of things teenagers don't necessarily get to see."

The class is a joint program between the school system and the Virginia Department of Health's Office of Emergency Medical Services.

This school year, Gardener is teaching four students.

"I got lucky," said Gardener. "I've got four phenomenal students this year who are very dedicated to the program and are doing very well."

Amanda Gimbert is one of the students in Gardener's class.

She said she's thankful to be able to participate in the EMT program.

"This is my first career that I wanted to do and I'm trying to go all the way with it," said Gimbert.

Gardener said her experience as a paramedic helps her give valuable lessons to her students.

"One of the things I feel blessed about is having had street experience as a paramedic," said Gardener. "I'm coming in and teaching this from a position of I've actually done what I'm teaching you."

She said the class is preparing these students to take their EMT certification exam.

She said next year they will be launching a pilot satellite program between CATEC and Western Albemarle High School, which will allow more students to take the course at a location they choose.

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