SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Where will the next generation of emergency medical technicians come from as we look ahead?

One place is at the Spartanburg EMS Academy.

“We have progressed in the treatments and the medications and interventions that we can provide for these patients,” Tiffany Ledbetter, Spartanburg EMS Academy Coordinator, said. “So, we can have more of the lifesaving skills right there as soon as we get there and we’re not having to wait the 15- or 20-minute transport times to get to the hospital.”

The Spartanburg EMS Academy was established in 2022 and has already produced dozens of EMTs who are working in the county.

People are hired by the county and paid as they go through a seven-week training course.

If they pass exams and are certified after their training, those new EMTs can be on the job in 12 weeks.

“When they come in the door, we hit the ground running very first day. They are here Monday through Friday, eight hours a day and we are covering a lot of material,” Ledbetter told 7NEWS.

Boyd Shipman, a student in the class, agrees.

They kind of feed you to the wolves around here. You get your feet in the fire,” according to Shipman. “But it’s a good thing if that’s what you’re looking to do.”

Shipman was a machinist for 20 years in Kings Mountain, N.C.

He said he left that behind thanks to his work as a volunteer firefighter, which brought him to the Spartanburg EMS Academy.

“I’m a hose dragger (firefighter) for life, but I think I found a second career.”

“I can work at my fire department, and I can work with EMS. I kind of like that, they kind of go hand in hand. If you like helping people, this is where you want to be.”

Before the academy was established, Spartanburg County hired EMTs who were trained at technical colleges or EMS councils in the region.

The first group of 26 certified EMTs from Spartanburg EMS Academy started in January 2022. Another 18 finished the program this past January.

There are 26 students in the current group. They’re on track to finish and be certified by early May.