The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services has received national accreditation for its paramedic education program, making it the first fire department in the state and the fourth in the country to receive such accreditation.
According to a news release, the program is one of a select few to offer first-hand patient care experience to its students.
"With this level of accreditation, we are able to customize several components of our paramedic program to better meet long-term goals and strategies," fire Chief William Goddard said in a statement. "As an EMS-based department, our paramedics are among the best and the brightest and to have our program recognized at a national level is outstanding."
The accreditation process included: preparation of a self-study report; peer review of the program's curriculum, procedures and staff; and a 2011on-site visit.
"This is a tremendous accomplishment for not only the county but the region," County Executive Ken Ulman said in a statement. "It solidifies the diligence and commitment to excellence that our firefighters and paramedics continually exhibit and creates a model for others to follow."
The Commission of Accreditation of Allied Health Education programs granted accreditation to the program on July 19. According to the release, accreditation will become mandatory for all agencies offering paramedic education programs by Jan. 1, 2013.
The program is part of the department's education and training division, which is comprised of 18 staff members. In 2011, more than 130 courses and 85,000 training hours were provided to Howard County career and volunteer personnel.