Health education professor teaches hands-on EMT program

Emanuel Espinoza, Staff Writer

Students at Cosumnes River College have been learning the skills of emergency medical technology for over 25 years.

Matthew McHugh, a health education professor, has been teaching at CRC since 2005 as an EMT instructor. He said that he is considered the unofficial program director of the fire technology program because CRC currently doesn’t have a program.

McHugh said that people who are taking the emergency medical services program, or working as a nurse or a doctor, have to sign up and take the healthcare provider or professional cardiopulmonary resuscitation course.

“As far as the program goes, we generally have two sections every semester,” McHugh said. “The two sections we currently offer are on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the afternoon, and an evening section. The students also participate in a clinical component, where they do 72 hours on working ambulances, fire and 911 services, private inter-facility transports and work at the trauma center for 24 hours. That’s part of a requirement to become trained as an EMT.”

Students interested in the program need to have a strong background in anatomy, physiology and medical terminology before attempting the class.

“Mainly because there is a 1,500-page medical textbook that they have to get through in a matter of 12 weeks, which most students find challenging,” McHugh said. “Generally, we only have one out of three that are successful from the beginning of the program. So we strongly encourage people to get that before attending the course.”

McHugh has been in EMS for more than 20 years. He started as a firefighter in 1993, became an EMT in 1994 and a paramedic in 1997. He has worked as a firefighter and EMT in Hawaii, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to his resume.

He currently still works in the EMS field, as he works as a paramedic for American Medical Response on 911 ambulances.

“Besides teaching EMT’s and first-responders for the past 12 years, I’ve also been teaching CPR since 1995,” McHugh said.

Anthony Brodie, a 20-year-old fire technology major, said that McHugh is a good instructor.

“He spends about half the time doing lectures, and the other half of the time actually practicing skills and work, so that we can feel a little hands-on experience,” Brodie said.

Abel Becerril, a 17-year-old undeclared major, said that he likes McHugh’s lectures because they help him out.

“If you want to get into the EMT program, I recommend McHugh at CRC, great teacher,” Becerril said. “Or, if you just want to be a fireman or paramedic, I would recommend him.”