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EMS Executive Director honored

John Hitchens named fellow by American College of Paramedic Executives

Executive Director of EMS for Star City Volunteer Fire Department John Hitchens recently achieved the highest level credentials in the profession and has been named a fellow by the American College of Paramedic Executives.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Hitchens said. “It’s been a long process.”

The requirements to become a fellow are intense.

In addition to at least a master’s degree, fellows need 120 hours of approved ACPE EMS management education, five years of EMS management experience, three professional letters of recommendation, a portfolio is reviewed, and a written examination needs to be passed, as does an oral board exam.

Hitchens has a master’s in business administration and healthcare management. He is  working on a doctorate in strategic leadership.

Everything Hitchens has done at Star City EMS since 2016 was scrutinized by the 13-person board, he said. During the oral exam, he was asked about “real-world situations in emergency medical services and your ability to deal with them.”

Being an EMS manager is more than just scheduling shifts — though that is part of it.

Hitchens said there is a “large emphasis” on continuing education in the EMS world; to a degree he thinks people outside the profession can’t understand.

“The amount of certification that is required every two years to remain a paramedic or EMT is really astronomical,” he said.

So, Hitchens and Star City EMS have developed an in-house education staff and department to assist not only their own people but anyone across the state. Technology has been used to continue education because of COVID.

“Really, just making sure the team has the tools they need to do the job they do,” Hitchens said. “I believe our agency does a great job for the contracts we have and for Monongalia County as a whole, I think we do an excellent job.”

The ACPE is the first professional college in the field of paramedicine in the United States, according to the National EMS Management Association.

EMS has really only been around since the ’70s, and it’s only recently there has been an emphasis on the leadership in the organizations, Hitchens said. Standards like those from the ACPE and its credentialing process help raise the bar for the profession.

Hitchens said it’s a great honor to be recognized, and he’s humbled to be among “some of the greatest minds in the EMS industry across the country.”

“This prestigious honor is given to those that show exemplary leadership as paramedics and administrators,” said Dr. Katie Hill, medical director for Star City Fire & EMS. “It is a testament to years of hard work, dedication and education. I am extremely proud of the work Hitchens has done; he continues to further the mission of Star City EMS to put ‘patients first’ every day.” 

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