Orange County Government, Florida
11 March 2016
Orange County Fire Rescue Continues Partnership with International Paramedic Students
Orange County Fire Rescue Station’s 51 crew members spend time with primary care paramedic student Emily Stevens and Criti Care President and CEO Bill Sommers.

Paramedic students from Criti Care, Inc., of Winnipeg, Manitoba, returned to Orange County Fire Rescue for their annual ride along the week of Feb. 15. Criti Care is a paramedic academy that educates students with classroom, clinical and field techniques.

The annual partnership welcomes students from Criti Care to shadow Orange County Fire Rescue’s busy emergency medical services (EMS) system and gain real-world experience in a bustling metro department. A total of 21 students traveled from Canada to Orange County to embark on a challenging and memorable experience.

“To this day, we have former students share that their experience at Orange County Fire Rescue was one of the most pivotal in their early careers,” said Criti Care President Bill Sommers. “They remember the welcoming attitudes and excellent mentorship, and it gives them a basis of how to treat the new paramedic they now mentor.”

The partnership with Orange County Fire Rescue and Criti Care began 14 years ago when Sommers was looking for an enhanced educational opportunity to provide to his students. Orange County Fire Rescue fit his criteria of a department that experiences a large breadth and volume of calls along with recognized quality of service in clinical care.

“This opportunity with Criti Care occurs once a year, and it is a great time for our firefighters and paramedics to share their knowledge with students who may not typically respond to the intense pace of calls we have in Orange County,” said Orange County Fire Rescue Chief Otto Drozd III.

Students in the Criti Care program begin in a classroom where they are educated on EMS full-time for six months. After the completion of their courses, they begin clinical practicums in the field with Orange County Fire Rescue. Firefighter/paramedics from Orange County Fire Rescue serve as mentors to these students. “The attitude from Orange County Fire Rescue has always been superior,” Sommers said. “They roll out the red carpet for us and treat us like VIPs.”

The students worked three, 24-hour shifts over a one-week period. The paramedic students will officially begin their careers in EMS in August upon passing the national exam in Canada.

For more information on recruitment at Fire Rescue, visit Orange County’s website. Citizens are also encouraged to follow @OCFireRescue on Twitter for breaking news and updates from Orange County’s Fire Rescue Public Information Office.