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Texas teen set to earn firefighter, EMT certification before graduating high school

AJ Cantu might be a teenager but he is already looking forward to making a career out of saving lives.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A local teen's hard work is about to pay off as he is set to graduate from the Del Mar College firefighter and EMT program before he gets his high school diploma.

AJ Cantu will soon be able to go out and find a job as a firefighter and EMT, due to a duel credit program offered through the college.

"I want to change the world for the better. I want to be the change I see in the world," Cantu said. 

Counting down the days until he graduates, Cantu has been learning the same lifesaving skills as his older counterparts in the program. 

"For a high school student to complete fire and EMT is an accomplishment, it is a tough program. The same testing material is the same as Corpus Christi fire cadets," said Joe McQuary, assistant instructor of Del Mar's fire science program.

McQuary said more schools are starting to offer firefighting program as a duel credit option. This as fire departments across Texas look to address a shortage of personnel. 

"Right now especially in EMS, reason being people graduating are going to work at the hospitals instead of the ambulances because there's more pay," Melissa Stuive, Del Mar EMS program director said. "Some transitioning from paramedic and going into nursing, a lot of them have left the field."

Many departments end up turning to Del Mar for recruitment. 

"The sooner you start, the faster you get out on the street and every city is hiring, every city you can think of is hiring," Cantu said. 

Cantu said that after graduation he will be headed back to Del Mar to pursue Nursing. 

"CCFD the age is 19, So I have to wait a couple of months.  I can go work the ambulance, private, hospital, a lot of different jobs out there. A lot of things you can do with that experience," Cantu said.

For more information about the Del Mar fire science program, click here

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