South Georgia Technical College now offering Fire and Emergency Services Occupation Associate Degree

Published 2:36 pm Wednesday, January 6, 2021

South Georgia Technical College EMT students are shown training inside South Georgia Tech’s ambulance.


South Georgia Technical College is offering a Fire and Emergency Services Occupation Associate Degree program for students interested in entry level employment in the public safety areas of fire science and emergency medical services beginning Spring Semester, January 13th, 2021.  Students enrolling in this program may be eligible for the Hope Scholarship, Hope Grant and Federal Pell Grant.  Prior learning credit may be awarded to students who have already completed the Basic Firefighter and EMT courses.

     “This is a tremendous opportunity for individuals interested in working with a fire department or in the Emergency Medical Services field,” said South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford.  “These two fields are interrelated and now our students have the opportunity to apply for jobs in either or both career areas.  Job growth in these two areas is expected to rise six percent or greater over the next few years.”

     “Students graduating from this program may be eligible for certification and/or licensure in the following areas:  Firefighter I, Firefighter II, EMT, and AEMT.  Students can attend part-time or full-time,” said EMT instructor Brad Harnum.

    “By offering an associate’s degree in this combined field, we are allowing students to expand their opportunities for employment,” said South Georgia Technical College Academic Dean Julie Partain, who oversees both program areas.  “This combined program degree level offering also allows students to complete both programs in six semesters and may allow them to be eligible for additional financial aid opportunities.”

   The Fire and Emergency Services Occupation degree program is conducted in cooperation with the Georgia Fire Academy and Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training to ensure graduates have the skills, knowledge and credentials to serve as firefights in paid and volunteer fire departments.  Graduates will be tested and certified at the National Professional Qualifications level.  Upon successful completion of the Firefighter/EMSP diploma program, students may be able to sit for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) AEMT certification exam.

   In addition to the associate degree offering for the Fire and Emergency Services Occupation program, South Georgia Technical College will be offering Technical Certificate of Credit programs in Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Emergency Medical Technician, and Advancement Emergency Medical Technician.  Each one of these four TCC programs can be completed in a single semester.

    Academic Dean Julie Partain also thanked the area fire departments and EMT departments in the SGTC seven county service area for their support of this program.  “This program is possible because we have so many active and committed fire fighters and EMTs that assist the program by teaching part time,” explained Partain.

    South Georgia Technical College’s Spring Semester gets underway January 13th, 2021.  Students may apply now on line or during registration on January 11th, 2021.  SGTC has a one-stop admissions process where students may apply and register in one day.  Testing has been waived for Spring Semester 2021. For more information about this new program contact SGTC Academic Dean Julie Partain at or Brad Harnum at For more information about the college and the other over 200 associate of applied science degrees, diploma’s or technical certificate of credit programs, visit the college website at

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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.