Facing shortage, Polk Co. paying future paramedics to go to school

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Facing a shortage of paramedics, Polk Country is trying to stack the deck back in its favor.

Next week, the county is launching an accelerated 8-month program to graduate paramedics from the Center for Public Safety at Polk State College.

Chris Jonckheer with Polk Fire Rescue says it’s a great profession for the right person.

“It’s almost an adrenaline rush at some points,” he told FOX 13. “If you enjoy being out there and helping people in an emergency situation, and you can handle that kind of pressure and work under that kind pressure and you like to perform under pressure, then this is definitely the job for you.”

Polk County says it will pay students' tuition and book costs, in addition to giving them a $1,600 per month stipend.

When they graduate, they will start at about $44,000 a year.

The first class is already full, but Jonckheer says they may run the program again.