Students and instructors in the ATEC EMR course

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Aberdeen Central High School’s ATEC Academy is offering a new Emergency Medical Responder course that takes hands-on learning to a whole new level. 

Students learn emergency medical skills such as CPR, but they don’t practice on just a mannequin—they practice on their instructor, Keith Sharisky of Aberdeen Fire and Rescue. 

“I'm a firm believer in hands-on live training,” said Sharisky, a paramedic. 

On a recent afternoon at ATEC, students practiced CPR chest compressions on Sharisky, who wore a padded chest protector, and also practiced Big Valve Mask technique on a real patient. 

Sharisky said learning this way allows students to become more comfortable getting up close to a potential patient. 

“When you're taking care of somebody, that's what's going to be happening,” said Sharisky, who has been teaching first responder training for almost 30 years. 

The EMR course is new this year and is taught by Sharisky and ATEC Health Careers Teacher Dr. Karen De Brine, in a community partnership between the city and school district. 

“I’ve been trying to get something like this for several years now,” Sharisky said, calling it a “godsend” when De Brine contacted him about starting the course.

 De Brine has over 30 years of experience in the healthcare field, including treating patients in private practice of chiropractic in Rochester, N.Y.; a collaborative practice with neurosurgery, pain management and physical therapy in a hospital; and teaching adjunct pathology, anatomy and physiology, for over 10 years while in practice. She also taught biology, anatomy and physiology lab and chemistry for health care providers at Presentation College before coming to ATEC. 

The course is one way to help meet the workforce demand for first responders. 

The EMR course will be offered at ATEC again in the fall during the first quarter. Then in the second quarter, an EMT course will be offered. 

The EMR course is above basic first aid, Sharisky said. 

“After this class, they can take the nationally written exam, and they can become nationally registered EMRs,” he said. 

Each class adds further skills. EMT will be the next step above EMR, adding in some medications. The advanced EMT courses add more advanced skills, such as IV. 

After students successfully pass the EMR or EMT course, including completing a psychomotor and ATEC written exam, they will then be eligible to test at the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technician, NREMT. All 50 states recognize the NREMT, but this does not guarantee licensing in these states. South Dakota requires NREMT EMR/EMTs to be licensed/certified in the state. The EMR/EMT will need to apply to the South Dakota Department of Health and complete that process. Once completed, they will be a South Dakota Licensed/Certified Emergency Medical Responder.

 Currently, three Central students are taking the EMR course, though student numbers are expected to grow next year. All three current students are planning to go into nursing, and the EMR course is one way to help prepare them for their future career. 

“I think that when I take the test for the certification, I think it’ll look good on a resume,” said CHS student Janae Chapman. 

The EMR and EMT classes are among the numerous career and technical education offerings at ATEC Academy. February is CTE Month, and ATEC will host a student cybersecurity roadshow on Feb. 14 in conjunction with Dakota State University. Learn more about ATEC here

About the Aberdeen Public School District 

The Aberdeen Public School District provides a comprehensive educational program to approximately 4,200 students in grades K-12, with a mission of empowering all students to succeed in a changing world. Our students receive the knowledge and skills necessary to reach their potential in a global community through high expectations of academic achievement; diverse educational opportunities; and community involvement in a safe, supportive environment. Learn more at