Pillar EMS, a new emergency medical technician & paramedic academy, has opened its doors to provide Central Georgians with new and ongoing instruction in the realm of pre-hospital care. Focused on a competitively affordable 10-week course for first-time students as well as instruction in the latest techniques for current EMTs seeking recertification or to expand their skill set, Pillar EMS is also committed to facilitating real employment opportunities for high school graduates in the community.
“There was nothing like this in the area, and there’s always the conversations around jobs. There’s really no other solutions other than traditional college,” says Jorge Roque, an 18-year fire service veteran and owner of Pillar EMS. “There’s always talk about helping people get out of poverty and getting them jobs. But other than a job at McDonald’s or anything that a high school kid could come out and could get, there’s really nothing else for them to do.”
At Pillar EMS, trainees will graduate with the necessary skills to join the workforce immediately upon completion of the certification course and fulfillment of state requirements.
“You can start working on an ambulance company right here in Middle Georgia,” emphasizes Roque. You make mid-30s, $40,000 a year salary. That’s salary! That’s not including your overtime. And those jobs come with medical benefits, retirement 401ks, which other entry-level jobs do not.”
The 10-week EMT training and certification course at Pillar EMS costs $3600 (can be divided into 3 equal payments) and includes in-person & virtual instruction, textbooks, and access to real-world tools like virtual ride-alongs. Students are required to hold a valid driver’s license and malpractice insurance (not included in the tuition) and must provide a recent nationwide background check free of felony convictions. A high school diploma or GED is also required and while students must be 18 in order to sit for state licensure testing, as long as all other requirements are met, they may begin Pillar EMS training while still in high school and only 17.
Finally, in addition to the course study, students must also earn 60 hours of ride-along time with an actual working EMT crew before being allowed to complete the state test. With basic training, ride-along time, and testing, Pillar EMS graduates can start working in as little as five months.
“Going to college doesn’t guarantee you to get a job. You get an education, but it does not guarantee you to get a job,” says Roque. “Most of [our] students have jobs before they even graduate because they do their [ride-alongs] on ambulances.”