BELPRE - Having worked in the emergency medical field for more than 20 years and seeing a need to fill in the community, a local paramedic opened a school to train those looking to work in the field.
In February 2011, David Ankrom and his wife, Sarah Ankrom, of Little Hocking, opened the Emergency Training Academy of Southern Ohio on Campus Drive in Belpre.
"Since we started, we have had 55 EMS (Emergency Medical Services) students become certified at all different levels and the majority of them have found jobs locally to serve the area," said Ankrom.
Ankrom is a paramedic for St. Joseph Ambulance Service in Parkersburg and a volunteer with the Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department as an EMT, firefighter and paramedic. He saw the need for the school in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Although the Parkersburg-Belpre-Marietta-Williamstown area has a dozen paid and volunteer fire departments, with EMTs on their roster, there are fewer than two dozen certified paramedics in the entire area, he said.
"My wife and I decided to start the school because there is a lack of people with the proper training available here," Ankrom said. "The call volumes at the fire departments are tripling in size and responders available are dwindling, something needs to be done."
That something became the academy, which offers classes taught by certified instructors provided through the academy at the Campus Drive facility and Washington State Community College on Colegate Drive in Marietta with plans to offer online courses in the future.
"Before we started this business, people had to take classes and get their certification outside of the area," he said. "If you're working a full-time job, and taking classes to become a medic, you don't want to drive one or two hours each way in the evenings for training."
The academy teaches all of the EMS classes at Washington State and provides all levels of initial certification courses as well as EMS certification classes and refresher courses, nationally certified EMS courses and Emergency Medical Responder, Emergency Medical Technician, Advanced Emergency Medical Technician and paramedic level courses.
"We want to be a full-service school to offer as much as we can to those who want to help others," Ankrom said.
A student, Mandelyn Ludtman, a paramedic trainee working at St. Joseph's, had planned to become a nurse, but for various reasons was unable to get into those programs and decided to take the initial EMS class from the Emergency Training Academy of Southern Ohio.
"I first took the EMS course and just loved it," and Ludtman. "I'm now in the paramedic class and because it is such a great school, I feel I have a good set of skills I can use to go out and get a great job.
"I'm really happy I found this school and have been able to learn thing things that will allow me to do something I love," she said.
According to the State of Ohio, the Emergency Training Academy of Southern Ohio is the only school in Washington County with full accreditation to administer EMS, paramedic and now firefighter training.
Firefighter training that will soon be available include Firefighter 1A (volunteer) up to Firefighter 2 as well as transition courses higher than volunteer.
"Just in this month, we received accreditation from the state to train firefighters," Ankrom said. "We want to be able to offer all levels of training to get people out in the field quickly to fill the open gaps."
For more information on the Emergency Training Academy of Southern Ohio, visit their website at etaofso.com/ and their Facebook page at Emergency Training-Academy.