The proficiencies of EMT's and paramedics are the core of any EMS system. Prior to 2009, Fort Smith EMS only required personnel to meet the minimum continuing education requirements for state re-certification. As the service improvement project developed, Fort Smith EMS implemented rigorous continuing education policies. The service now requires semi-annual proficiency testing of all personnel and holds routine in-service and in-house training sessions. The service also participates in several multi-agency, multijurisdictional training events annually. Fort Smith EMS is currently in the process of identifying and implementing an on-line educational component that will further enhance the services educational goals and personnel proficiencies. Fort Smith EMS has partnered with the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, Arkansas Tech University-Ozark, and Kiamichi Technology Centers to provide clinical rotations for EMT and paramedic students. These partnerships provide mentoring and educational opportunities to aspiring students in a high-volume EMS service, producing some of the best prepared EMS graduates in the state.
The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, Western Arkansas Technical Center, Fort Smith Public Schools, and Fort Smith EMS have collaborated to offer EMT courses to high school students.
Students obtain EMT training, receive college credit, and participate in clinical rotations on Fort Smith EMS ambulances.
The program is available to high school juniors and seniors at no cost and allows them to make an educated career choice. The program has helped increase the flow of certified EMT's in the community, which has also improved interests in local paramedic programs.
Fort Smith EMS is in the planning stages of several additional education/prevention programs, including free community CPR training and a public access AED program. Fort Smith EMS has placed a grant writer on staff to secure funding for expansion and implementation of prevention and education programs and projects.