NEW PALESTINE — As county officials inch closer to opening the Hancock County Career Center known as HC-3 for all county students to take vocational classes, officials with the Community School Corp. of Southern Hancock County are trying to get a head start on the type of programming educators hope to offer.

Southern Hancock officials plan to have Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) classes and open them up to all county students as soon as next fall at New Palestine High School. Officials with Southern Hancock will add one new staff member for the 2024-25 year to handle the classes. That staff member and the class might then transfer to the HC-3 when the Amplify Hancock building opens sometime in 2026-27.

“We have been working within our county to find more opportunities for our students that just one school can not offer like criminal justice,” Miles Hercamp, Director of Instructional Services for Southern Hancock said. “All of us can’t offer criminal justice or something like aviation.”

Hercamp told his school board after doing some research on the need for these type of classes county officials suspect an estimated 100 juniors and seniors from the four different county high schools will sign up for EMT classes.

 Miles Hercamp is the Director of Instruction for Southern Hancock schools.

“We feel this is a program we want to get started now, but we don’t think in two or three years we’re going to have room here to host it,” Hercamp said.

That’s why Hercamp told officials the EMT classes would be ideal to move to HC-3 when the county schools vocational building officially opens.

Hercamp noted these type of classes are considered “next level” type of study where careers associated with the classes offer high wages and are in high demand. Hercamp noted EMT is a field students said they’d like to start studying while in high school.

County officials had students in grades 10 and 11 at all four county schools fill out a survey about what type of vocational learning they’d be interested in while in high school.

The survey results showed 107 students from the four districts are interested in EMT studies with NPHS having the most students interest with 45 followed by 28 students from Mt. Vernon High School, 19 from Greenfield-Central High School and 15 from Eastern Hancock High School.

“There is a high interest in EMT classes so we started looking around to see what it would take for us to be able to do that,” Hercamp said.

While some districts will continue to host specific classes for all county students at their high school campus, Hercamp noted the EMT program is a good one to be housed eventually at HC-3.

“We need to keep that move as an option,” Hercamp said.

After getting the approval from NPHS principal Jim Voelz, Hercamp said they started looking for a classroom. Hercamp noted they found one at NPHS that can accommodate the class where they will basically turn the back section of a classroom into an ambulance, something Hercamp believes can be paid for via a grant.

“The students who take the classes will get dual credit and industry certification if they finish everything,” Hercamp said.

District officials will connect with EMT officials at Sugar Creek Township and Greenfield Fire Territory to get them on board with learning opportunities for students.

“It will give our students yet another opportunity,” Hercamp said. “Students will be able to get up to 19 and a half credits with this if they complete everything.”

Students will have a chance to earn EMT, CPR, emergency medical responder and other safety certifications through the classes which will make them more employable once they graduate high school.

“Students will have to be 17 years old at the end to get the certification,” Hercamp said.

There will be several courses associated with the program including a Principles of Healthcare, a Medical Terminology and an Emergency Medical Tech class.

The cost of equipment will be paid for by a 3E Grant that needs to be expended by September. The cost of the instructor will be shared by the four county schools. Southern Hancock schools will then receive $3,700 in state funding for each student who applies.

Southern Hancock Schools will receive approximately $2,142 from CTE funding for the classes due to them being “high wage, high demand, next level programming.” If the cost of the instructor is not covered by these revenues, the course will not be offered at NPHS.

“We will not offer this if there is a financial loss,” Hercamp said. “But, we feel we are at least going to be able to have one section in the morning and hopefully an afternoon section.”

School board member Dan Walker, who also happens to be a professional firefighter told the board he thought offering these types of professional classes to high school students who know they want to be a first responder is a great idea.

“We’ve had a lot of students here who graduate and go into firefighting,” Walker said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to see what this is all about.”

The school board approved the new class offering, with the understanding they “may” or “may not” eventually move the class to HC-3 depending on when that building opens and space availability at NPHS in the future.

“I think it’s important for us to offer those things to kids,” board member Brian McKinney said after noting he’d like to see the class offering remain at NPHS long-term if possible.