Learning to be an EMT or Paramedic requires so much more than taking a series of online classes or memorizing the various systems of the body. To truly be a good EMT or Medic, critical thinking skills are absolutely necessary. After providing healthcare services with excellence and compassion for many years in Citrus County, Nature Coast EMS visionaries realized that many of the EMTs and Paramedics we were hiring lacked critical thinking abilities that impacted customer care. To correct this issue, we decided to create the Nature Coast Emergency Medical Institute to provide high quality EMT and Paramedic training programs.
In 2009, the Nature Coast Emergency Medical Foundation, d.b.a Nature Coast Emergency Medical Services, a not for profit CAAS Accredited Ambulance Service, made application for approval from the Florida Commission on Independent Education, Florida Department of Education and Florida Department of Health, Office of EMS, to offer an Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic program. In 2010, Nature Coast Emergency Medical Services received approval as an EMT education program, License #4158.
In 2010, the Department of Education approved the Paramedic program. At that time, however, the Bureau of EMS would not approve Nature Coast EMS to teach the paramedic program because of a legal opinion. Under their interpretation, Nature Coast EMS could not affiliate with itself for the required ALS transport clinical site.
To address this issue, Nature Coast partnered with the Orlando Medical Institute in 2011. The Orlando Medical Institute at Nature Coast EMS campus was then created. The classes and field clinicals were held at Nature Coast EMS. OMI at Nature Coast EMS graduated two paramedic classes, one in 2011 and one in 2012.
In 2013, the Nature Coast Emergency Medical Institute was formed by Nature Coast EMS and Oak Hill Hospital. This consortium was awarded an annual license through the Florida Department of Health, Office of EMS, and Florida Department of Education, Commission on Independent Education, to offer EMT and Paramedic programs. In 2013, the Nature Coast Emergency Medical Institute began to offer paramedic education independent of the Orlando Medical Institute.
Nature Coast EMI is also accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of EMS Programs, an accomplishment we are quite proud of.
The Nature Coast Emergency Medical Institute has affiliation agreements with the two hospitals in our county, HCA’s Citrus Memorial Hospital and Bayfront Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center, as well as Oak Hill Hospital, which is south of our county. We have strong partnerships with these clinical facilities. Our clinical hospital partners not only provide quality clinical experiences for our EMT and Paramedic students, but also offer scholarships and job opportunities.
The Institute is under the leadership of Education and Clinical Director, Jane Bedford, BSN. Ms. Bedford has worked for over 40 years in the healthcare field, as both a volunteer and paid employee, in a variety of positions -- EMT, firefighter, paramedic, RN, Critical Care Paramedic and dispatcher. She currently serves on the Florida EMS Advisory Council, Florida Association of EMS Educators and Florida Council of EMS Chiefs. “I believe that what we do in EMS is very important,” Ms. Bedford said, “and being a paramedic is the best profession in the world.”
Nature Coast EMS, the sole provider of ALS transport service in rural Citrus County, has successfully hired Nature Coast Emergency Medical Institute graduates. Data has shown that orientation time for Nature Coast Emergency Medical Institute graduates decreased by 82% over graduates from other EMS programs. Data has also shown that we have a very impressive first time pass rate of the state licensure test when compared to national test results from other schools. We also have a very impressive job placement rate.