CWU News

CWU Helps Fill Critical Paramedic Need in Western and Eastern Washington

CWU EMT PAramedicine Program students in training Through 2028, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 7-percent job growth in emergency medical services (EMS) and paramedicine, which is above the average for all occupations. In Washington alone, the need for paramedics is becoming critical.

“There is a huge shortage of paramedics in Washington State and departments are having less applicants than positions available,” said Dr. Doug Presta, Central Washington University’s EMS Paramedicine Program director.”

Since 1973, CWU has trained leading industry professionals in Ellensburg. To help address the burgeoning need, this quarter the university began doing likewise for students at CWU-Lynnwood and Spokane Community College. The 14 students in Lynnwood and 17 in Spokane take online lectures and then participate in required labs hosted on the Edmonds Community College or Spokane Community College campus. It is the only program of its kind in Washington and there are just two comparable ones offered across the country.

“It meets the needs of our working EMTs who can’t attend a traditional paramedicine program while allowing them to still become a great street medic,” Presta stated.

The certificate program takes three quarters to complete. Graduates will be qualified to take the rigorous exam for the National Registry’s National EMS Certification at the Paramedic level. Better than 95 percent of CWU alumni earn certification. Nearly nine out of 10 pass the test on his or her first attempt.

The CWU program has an established history of requiring students to meet high academic standards and skill requirements that often exceed established state and national benchmarks. It is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and boasts a nearly a 100-percent job placement rate.

Presta has served previously as a paramedic and firefighter, director of both Vocational Education at Inland Northwest Health Services and the Paramedic Program at St Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane; and a sports medicine physician and surgeon in Renton.

Photo: CWU EMS Paramedicine Program students training in Ellensburg.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,