Des Moines Area Community College announced it has created a new career path that combines paramedic training with a concentration in fire science. The new program, the Emergency Response AAS degree, aims to prepare 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 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.” DMACC is the first college in Iowa to offer the new pathway. The new degree comes at an important time as fire departments across the state face a shortage of both paramedics and trained firefighters, said Joel Otte, EMS instructor at DMACC. “Our graduates will have a nearly 100% placement rate and our program is growing at a fast pace to keep up with this labor shortage,” he said. Otte 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 Aug. 24.