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Great Basin College Emergency Medical Services Program

  • Need: Recognizing the need to increase emergency response times, rural Nevada struggled to recruit and retain EMTs, AEMTs, and Paramedics.
  • Intervention: Great Basin College created the EMS program to recruit and train new EMTs and paramedics.
  • Results: The program has now trained hundreds of state-certified EMTs and AEMTs in rural Nevada.


In the 1990s, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) in rural Nevada consisted mainly of volunteers. The dearth of these volunteers created the scene of a 86,000 square mile rural/frontier region of the state served by only 3,400 EMTs.

Medical facilities raised awareness around the difficulty of recruiting, training, and retaining these volunteers. Most importantly, this culminated in Nevada's rural emergency medical services (EMS) having the worst emergency response time in the nation between 1998 and 1999.

Great Basin College logo The Great Basin College (GBC) began to address this crisis in 2002. With a Rural Health Outreach program, GBC provided a way to train new EMTs and offer continuing education for existing EMTs and AEMTs in an effort to increase the volunteer number, thus improving response times.

In order to achieve these goals, a consortium was formed. Each member had a specific activity:

Together, they created the GBC Emergency Medical Services program, which offers EMT and Advanced EMT classes in hybrid formats (distance learning combined with in-person skills training) throughout its vast service area in rural Nevada.

The EMS program received initial support from a 2002-2005 Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Rural Health Care Services Outreach grant. Today, this program is funded fully by GBC through student registration fees and state appropriations.

The GBC Emergency Medical Services program is also sought accreditation for a paramedic program. This new program will offer successful students an Associates of Applied Science degree in paramedicine. The new paramedic program will initially be funded by both GBC and Perkins grant funding. The Carl D. Perkins Basic grant, passed through the Federal government to the State of Nevada and then to GBC, will provide approximately $133,000 to cover salaries and benefits for 2 paramedic positions. The remaining funding for these positions will be covered by GBC through student registration fees and other sources of college funds. In addition, the college has received approximately $202,000 from the State of Nevada, Department of Education, through the FY2016 Perkins Competitive Reserve Fund application process. This funding will be used for the start-up costs associated with the paramedic program.

Services offered

  • New EMTs recruitment
  • Retention of existing EMTs in rural communities
  • EMTs and paramedics training, including interactive video-conferencing
  • Training equipment procurement
  • Pre-hospital response service improvement
  • Provision of financial aid to students in EMT training


During the original 2002-2005 grant period, 167 people received basic EMT training and 135 received intermediate-level EMT training. Of those who received training, 158 gained Nevada state certification as EMTs. Continuing education conferences during that interval drew 103 EMT attendees.

Additional results:

  • 2 mobile instructional trailers were created to train EMTs
  • A full-time EMS instructor was hired by GBC to continue the interactive video academy

Results broken down by years:

  • 2016 (As of July 31st): 18 people have received EMT training, 12 people have received advanced EMT training, and 13 people have received paramedic training
  • 2015: 16 people received EMT training and 7 people received advanced EMT training
  • 2014: 16 people received EMT training and 9 people received advanced EMT training
  • 2013: 18 people received EMT training
  • 2012: 11 people received EMT training and 14 people received advanced EMT training
  • 2011: 19 people received EMT training and 10 people received advanced EMT training
  • 2009: 18 people received EMT training and 13 people received advanced EMT training


The barriers to EMS education in rural Nevada are largely geographical. Because travel times to traditional classroom-based education are prohibitive for many Nevada students, GBC utilizes a variety of innovative technological solutions to meet needs. Many classes are taught in hybrid formats, covering specific skills on selected days at various sites.


This program employed a variety of resources to be successful in a very large, rural area. These include:

  • Interactive video conferencing allows EMTs in isolated rural areas to obtain training classes without traveling and to receive expert instruction from teachers dispersed throughout Nevada
  • Financial aid provision to students
  • Using 2 mobile instructional trailers for training in rural areas

By providing local training and financial aid to students, the financial burden of becoming a volunteer EMT was lessened, which assists in the recruitment and retention of rural EMTs.

Communities wishing to replicate this program should consider using telecommunication to train new and existing EMTs. This approach helps to contain costs while linking students to experts throughout the state. A brief outline of the current program offerings and eligibility requirements is available and could be used as a guide for other communities.

Contact Information

Kayla McCarson, Marketing/Social Media Specialist, Student Services
Great Basin College
Great Basin College EMS, Paramedic Emphasis Degree Program

Emergency medical services
Emergency medical technicians and paramedics
Health workforce education and training

States served

Date added
July 21, 2009

Date updated or reviewed
December 4, 2017

Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.