The First Response To The IVCC First Responders

The First Responder course at IVCC is a new course on campus with a serious problem: a lack of interest from students.

The program, headed by Professor Nick Fish, is a 52-hour course aimed at informing students how to administer emergency aid properly and cleanly. It is worth four credit hours and is open to everyone, regardless of skill set.

When asked why they thought enrollment was low, Shane Lange, dean of the workforce development division, and Fish saw time commitment as an issue, both for students and the faculty coordinating the program.

“Over the last several years, all of my EMS programs, whether it be the EMR first responder, the EMT basic and also Paramedic…have been coordinated, the program has been coordinated by part time faculty,” said Lange in regards to the part-time teachers of the first responder programs.

He believes, because of this, their commitment to the college as part-time faculty was lower due to a full-time job outside of the course. With Fish around as a full-time coordinator, however, he hopes they can better advertise the program to students.

“I really don’t know why people don’t do it,” said Fish in regards to low enrollment. “I don’t know if it’s… a fear of being sued or getting injured or a time-commitment thing.”

In order to become a first responder, students must complete the course, gaining a knowledge of CPR, caring for trauma injuries and handling pathogens in a safe manner. All work is classroom-based, with special equipment used to simulate real-life emergencies.

Often, first responders can check in with fire departments or other higher industries outside of class in order to get real experience in an emergency.

Some of the typical duties of a first responder include checking vitals, stabilizing any patients, checking medical history and overseeing the scene of the emergency.

Learning to administer emergency aid is not the only reason to take the course, however. Both Fish and Lange
agree that first aid experience also looks good on a college application.

“Volunteer response is always a big thing after disasters,” said Fish in regards to the importance of learning how to respond to emergencies. “Courses like this help provide people the training and prepare them for disasters.”

In order to increase enrollment, Fish and Lange are considering several options to make the course more enticing. They are beginning by revamping the current curriculum of the course.

Creating a club at IVCC for first responder students was also a thought, but due to most of the courses being at night, it is unlikely.

Finally, both Fish and Lange had some advice in regards to taking the first responder course.

“Try the EMT program, as it’s the first step up,” said Fish. “Most people could benefit from it.”

“If it’s something you’re interested in, I say go for it,” added Lange. “In terms of how it would impact you once you’ve done that, it’s just another way to give back to your community.”

If students are interested in the program, they can contact Nick Fish at 815-224-0267 for more information, the workforce development division at 815-224-0219, or they can contact or visit a counselor about the program.