New DMACC Degree Set to Prepare the Next Generation of Firefighters

Posted 1/27/2022

​​DMACC Emergency Response AAS degree combines certifications in firefighting and paramedic.

  • New DMACC Emergency Response program is the first-of-its-kind in Iowa.

  • Many fire departments across the state are facing a shortage of skilled emergency response professionals.

  • Clive’s fire chief applauds the new DMACC degree.

  • New Emergency Response Degree set to start this fall.

DMACC has created a new career path that combines Paramedic training with a concentration in Fire Science. Called Emergency Response AAS degree​, the new program provides a more well-rounded first responder who can serve multiple roles within a fire department.

“Until now, a student either pursued a fire science degree or they took a health sciences route to become a paramedic. We’ve now combined those two roles to make a more skilled and capable graduate,” said Dr. Arthur Brown, Dean of DMACC Health and Public Services.

“These students are highly trained, and will be prepared to fight fires and save lives in communities across Iowa.”

While the new integrated degree isn’t unique in the United States, only a few colleges and universities are offering it. DMACC is the first college in Iowa to offer the new pathway.

“A Paramedic Associate degree with a fire science concentration is an efficient way for a DMACC student to obtain all the needed emergency response certifications and be job ready upon graduation,” said Joel Otte (pronounced Aut-tee), Emergency Medical Services Instructor (also pictured above).

He also noted these graduates will likely go to the top of a department’s hiring list because of their added training.

Fire science is the study of all characteristics of a fire, from fire prevention, behavior and investigation to techniques extinguishing a fire, while a paramedic is a health care professional who provides advanced emergency medical care to both sick and injured patients.

Otte said the new degree comes at an important time as fire departments across the state face a shortage of both paramedics and trained firefighters. He said the combination of retirements and growing communities are contributing to a shortage of emergency responders.

“Our graduates will have a nearly 100 percent placement rate and our program is growing at a fast pace to keep up with this labor shortage,” said Otte.

Clive Fire Chief Rick Roe is an advocate of the new DMACC degree.

“The new DMACC Paramedic Associates degree with a concentration in the Fire Service serves a critical need in central Iowa. The Des Moines Metro area population is one of the fastest growing in the Midwest. This growth contributes to increase calls for fire and EMS services. In addition, suburban communities have mostly transitioned from volunteer staffing models to full-time/paid departments. This change has greatly increased the demand for job-ready entry-level personnel. Never before (in Iowa) has there been a dual paramedic/firefighter training program available for those wanting to pursue a career in fire and EMS. I could not be more enthusiastic about the educational need this program fulfills, as well as the future stream of qualified applicants that will be entering the work force,” said Chief Roe.

While DMACC Paramedic and fire science enrollment is up nearly 40 percent over the last few years, Otte said they have the capacity to serve more students.

“It’s not an easy profession, but it’s very rewarding to help people during their greatest moment of need and serve communities where we live,” said Otte.

He noted the starting pay for a DMACC graduate with an Emergency Response degree is around $60,000 and can go up to $70,000 or more with overtime.

The new Emergency Response program will start for new students on the DMACC Ankeny Campus in the fall 2022 Semester, which begins on August 24.

For more information, contact: Joel Otte, Emergency Medical Services,

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