Launching careers: Sierra College, Tahoe-Truckee’s EMT program trains those dedicated to saving lives


Spearheaded by Victor Hernandez for a quarter of a century, Sierra College, Tahoe-Truckee’s longstanding Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program continues to attract and train people who are dedicated to health care and saving lives. Hernandez estimates that he has worked with 1,000 students through Sierra College’s EMT courses as well as the advanced life support classes he has taught throughout North Tahoe over the years.

Students use the EMT class as a launch pad to higher certifications and degrees including pursuing careers as a paramedic, physician assistant, nurse or physician. “The EMT course is a great steppingstone that, one, helps people make a choice about where they want to go, and, two, sets the expectations for entering the medical field,” Hernandez explains. EMTs prepared by Hernandez are working locally and throughout the state and country. Hernandez has kept in touch with former students who reflect on the strong fundamentals – such as listening to a patient and using tools to understand the nuances of patients’ experiences – learned as an EMT student. With an exam pass rate in the high ninetieth percentile, Hernandez’ students who take the National EMT certifying exam exceed the state and national averages.

What does it take to be successful? There is no doubt that the nine-unit EMT class requires dedication. Nearly equivalent to the time commitment of a full time job, the EMT course requires approximately thirty hours a week including twelve hours per week on campus. Most students participate in study groups. Attendance and participation are mandatory and a clinical experience, an assigned field ride-along or clinical hospital observation, is also required.

Before beginning the EMT course, students must be high school graduates or hold a GED and be at least 18 years old.

The EMT class is required for Sierra College’s Pre-Paramedic Skills Certificate, Fire Fighter Academy and associate degrees including Health Sciences and Emergency Medical Services.

EMT is one of a handful of career and technical education (CTE) classes available on the Sierra College, Tahoe Truckee campus. Other CTE courses include accounting, administration of justice, business, early childhood education, graphic design, mechatronics, and photography. For more information, contact the Tahoe-Truckee campus at 530-550-2225 or visit 11001 College Trail.

Victor Hernandez (right) explains key concepts during a Fall 2018 class on the Sierra College, Tahoe-Truckee campus.
Photo by Dave Blanchard, Courtesy of Sierra College
Hands on learning offers practice, practice and mastery in Sierra College, Tahoe-Truckee’s EMT classes.
Photo by Dave Blanchard, Courtesy of Sierra College
Interactive, relevant and hands-on, Sierra College’s EMT course is a springboard for jobs and higher-level careers in the medical field.
Photo by Dave Blanchard, Courtesy of Sierra College

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