There is great news for students wanting to pursue a career in Emergency Medical Services in Bay County.
Out of more than 1,100 EMS programs in the country, Fire Science Online ranked Gulf Coast State College's programs 33 among the top 80 institutions in the nation providing the best return on investment.
"I've had to do CPR numerous times on different people," said Paramedic Student Samantha Rodia. "After my advanced clinical between EMT to Paramedic, I actually got a heartbeat back, and that is an amazing feeling."
EMS Program Director Scott Williams said students dedicate months and/or more than a year to class-work and hands-on experience. An EMT student puts in about 250 hours of work, while a Paramedic student is required to put in an additional 1,200 hours.
However, Scott said they're getting a great education at Gulf Coast with one of the best returns in investment.
The entire EMT Program costs $1,824.89 for a Florida resident. The Paramedic Program costs $5,162.84. The totals include things like tuition, books, uniforms, state testing, and certification fees.
Scott said it's just a fraction of what an EMT or Paramedic could make in a year working in Bay County.
"An EMT, roughly, if they get on full-time at an ambulance service, right at about $30,000, plus or minus. A paramedic, $40,000+ depending."
However, some students said becoming an EMT or Paramedic is about so much more.
"It is not that expensive going in. You get pretty good money coming back out, and you get to save lives. That's what it's all about for me," said Rodia.
Gulf Coast's Fire Science Program also ranked 43 out of the top 90 schools in the nation that best prepare students for a successful future working in their field.
Fire Science Online determined the top institutions using national salary, tuition, enrollment and accreditation data.