GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – The time to become a paramedic is now.

“It’s a great time to jump in,” said longtime paramedic instructor Cory Gibson. “Our pay is higher than ever; there’s multiple opportunities available. It’s a really good field.”

Gibson has served as a paramedic instructor at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin for the last 12 years and has seen the industry change during his time.

“It’s been a really fulfilling career,” he said.

Cory Gibson, paramedic instructor at Volunteer State Community College

Right now, Gibson said, becoming a paramedic is a “young man’s game”, as the field requires extended shifts and multiple skillsets.

“You’ve got to want to be able to stay up for 24 hours and possibly run calls that entire time and deal with some of the sickest of the sick when you’re tired and let that adrenaline rush kick in.”

Additionally, Gibson said, paramedics are jacks-of-all-trades to a certain extent, as multiple different industries can utilize their skills, including hospitals, cruise ships and intensive care units.

“The hospitals will pay a lot of money for certain skillsets,” he said. “There’s multiple opportunities.”

Gibson has also seen the demand for paramedics increase during his career.

“When I went to paramedic school in 2006 and 2007, you had to wait to get a 911 job,” he said. “You had to know somebody; you had to make a really good impression on clinicals.”

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Now, however, there is an abundance of positions available.

“Now the jobs are available, and there are so many different industries fighting for us,” he said. “Everybody’s just scrambling for people.”

The need for more paramedics also comes as more seasoned veterans of the industry opt for retirement.

“With the Baby Boomer generation all leaving the field, you have a mass exodus of personnel,” he said. “It’s hard to replace them all.”

While the recruitment efforts continue to replace retiring personnel, Gibson said the number one thing county governments can do to ensure they have enough paramedics for all of life’s emergencies is to listen to their employees.

“Talk to their personnel; listen to their people,” he told News 2. “Fight for their employees. Go talk to the county commissions and mayors and say, ‘A majority of my employees say they wouldn’t have left if not for X.’”

Fighting for their employees can also mean reallocating more money for better pay for paramedics.

“I know there’s only a certain amount of money for county governments to hand out, but they might have to get creative and reallocate it,” Gibson said.

He also highly recommended exit interviews in order to improve the culture of the industry, which he does regularly for his paramedic classes.

“We as the students at the exit interview what we can change,” Gibson said. “We listen to our students when they say to change stuff, and we change it. If it works for the next cohort, it works; but if it doesn’t, we scrub it. Make people want to come work for you.”

Ultimately, Gibson said, he couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

“Have fun doing it,” he said of the field. “When I was younger, I loved it. I wouldn’t have done anything different.”

To learn more about the paramedic courses and Emergency Medical Service program at Vol State, click here.