Great Lakes EMS Academy helps students find their passion for saving lives

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Nicole Eastman didn't have to leave West Michigan to fulfill her dream of becoming a paramedic.

"I finally found my passion." And she found it at Great Lakes EMS Academy in Grand Rapids.

Great Lakes EMS Academy runs its program in association with Davenport University and is the only paramedic training site in the area that has received the National Programmatic Accreditation. This is important, since there is a demand for paramedics and EMTs around the state. According to the Department of Labor, employment of EMT's and paramedics is projected to grow 24 percent from 2014 to 2024. Its news Eastman says is reassuring.

"We've basically have proven ourselves of being one of the finest," said Steve Huisman said.

The success didn't come overnight. Great Lakes got its start 19 years ago at the Georgetown Township fire station.

"I bought some of the equipment and borrowed a lot from the American Medical Response and other people who taught paramedics before me," Huisman recalled. In 2005 he moved the academy to a building on Division Avenue in Grand Rapids.

Today, it's the only paramedic training site in the greater Grand Rapids area to receive National Programmatic Accreditation and is just one of 20 in our state. Huisman says the academy teaches students how to take care of all of the different illnesses, trauma, narcotics overdoses, etc. The only thing they don't learn is how to drive an ambulance.

"I study every day," Eastman said. "If I'm not at work, I'm studying. If I'm at work and have time to study. I study there. I make flashcards and study on the go."

"We’ve had a lot of students that came in and struggled and struggled, and those are my favorite students actually," Huisman said. "While they're here, maybe catch the bug a bit more and put a bit more effort into training, and they end up being great paramedics."

For several years now the academy has maintained a 100 percent pass rate at the National Registry for Emergency Medical Technicians for their paramedic graduates.

For information on course prices and duration, click here.

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