Eastern Arizona College’s nursing and allied health program is now training law enforcement officers from around Arizona in phlebotomy so they can draw and test blood from people suspected of driving under the influence.
With funding from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, EAC is one of the first colleges in the state to offer the program online and with a clinical, in person, component.
Officers in Arizona can draw blood from people suspected of driving under the influence after either getting consent from someone who’s been pulled over or after receiving an electronic warrant from a judge.
Last year officers across the state took 6,000 blood samples from people, said Alberto Gutier, GOHS director.
Five thousand to 6,000 officers around the state are already certified in phlebotomy and allowed to draw blood samples from people, Gutier said, but with most of the training services in the state’s metropolitan centers like Maricopa and Pima counties, rural officers have to travel to classes at Phoenix College or Pima Community College to take the classes. In an effort to train more rural officers, the GOHS started an initiative to set up more phlebotomy training at smaller community colleges throughout the state.
“The world doesn’t stop at Maricopa County,” Gutier said, adding that he trusts EAC to implement the program well and be a model for other rural community colleges in the state to adopt similar programs.
Carolyn McCormies, EAC’s director of nursing and division chair for the college’s nursing and allied health program, called the college’s phlebotomy program innovative because it allows officers from around the state to take the training online, from wherever they live, and then have a instructor from EAC come to them to do the clinical, in person, portion of the class.
“Part of the challenge of phlebotomy is how to get people to do the draw line,” McCormies said, referring to a blood draw, “This program handles that beautifully.”
The class itself started on June 2 with a group of officers from Pinal County. A second group from the Phoenix Police Department is scheduled to join the class shortly.
The class takes eight to 10 weeks to complete.
Clifton Chief of Police Omar Negrete said his department only has one sergeant who has phlebotomy training. Knowing that EAC has a phlebotomy course closer to home than Tucson, where the sergeant went for training, will be helpful in getting more of the cops in his department trained.
Greenlee County Sheriff Tim Sumner said he has five phlebotomists on staff, all of whom were trained at Pima Community College.
He’d like at least two other staff members trained, including one at the jail.
He’s glad his deputies and corrections officers will soon be able to train locally.
Graham County Sheriff’s Department has one deputy with phlebotomy training on staff as well, a deputy that the department often has to loan out to other local law enforcement agencies to draw blood from people, according to undersheriff Jeff McCormies.
With the department itself doing an estimated six to 10 blood draws from people per month, McCormies said they hope to get more people from the department into training to relieve pressure on the one already trained deputy.
“It makes it easier on our one phlebotomist on staff,” McCormies said.