ABILENE, Texas – This week marks the 45th annual National EMS Week, which honors the dedication of those who provide lifesaving services each day.
As the next generation of emergency medical service providers prepares to enter the workforce, Texas State Technical College students and faculty remember why they chose to serve.
“National EMS Week allows me to pause and have a moment of gratitude for my fellow EMS providers and to feel proud that I am part of a profession that has such an impact on so many people’s lives. I’m humbled by it,” said Ronnie Pitts, TSTC’s statewide department chair for EMS.
Pitts has worked in the EMS field for more than 29 years. Before earning his Associate of Applied Science degree in EMS with a Paramedic specialization at TSTC in 2005, he served as a firefighter/advance emergency medical technician with the city of Vernon Fire/EMS Department.
Pitts says his time in the field and as an instructor has allowed him to make a positive impact on not just his patients, but also the patients his students will care for.
For one student, the opportunity to help others in crisis is what he loves most.
“It’s become my passion,” Zacory Gardner, a student in the Paramedic program, said. “EMS Week allows the public a better understanding that we are more than a transportation vehicle. We are a mobile ER, and we are here to help.”
Gardner currently works as an EMT basic with MetroCare and is expected to graduate from TSTC in 2020.
Classmate Ian Shannon recently started with MetroCare as an EMT basic and says it is exciting to continue the family tradition of being a first responder.
“My mom is a nurse, and we’ve got family that is in fire rescue and law enforcement. I also wanted to help people but figured I would do it in a different way,” Shannon said. “(Working as an EMT) is a great way to help people.”
Shannon is also expected to graduate in 2020.
As National EMS Week comes to a close, TSTC’s EMS lead instructor Kandell Scruggs hopes her students feel appreciated for their hard work. But she also recognizes the need to thank the families of EMS workers for their sacrifices.
“EMS providers give up a lot of family time and time with loved ones, so this week serves as a chance not only to thank the EMS personnel for their service to the community, but also to thank their family members,” Scruggs said.
Scruggs has worked in the EMS field for 28 years and is excited for her students to become part of the EMS family.
Pitts and Scruggs both encourage anyone who feels called to serve their community to consider a career in EMS by attending an information session about the program held every Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Industrial Technology Center at 2082 Quantum Loop in Abilene.
For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.