Class picture with ten people.
(Front, l-r) Molly Bridgeman, Tyler Kelly, Gail Moretz and Tanner Coble. (Back, l-r) Director Billy Respass, Martin Oro, John Taylor, Bryan Gurkin, Clark Pollard and Tanner Phelps.

Paramedic Graduates Ready to Tackle Rural Healthcare

Nine students graduated from Beaufort County Community College’s paramedic program on November 1. This year’s graduates included Tanner Phelps, who graduated from BCCC’s first fire academy in 2016. All nine students have obtained their state certifications.

Guest speaker Amy Sasnett, BCCC trustee, farmer and retired nurse, spoke about the importance of first responders from multiple aspects. Sasnett related two tragedies; just as her family life returned to normal after she recovered from breast cancer, her teenage son Reid, who joined the Pinetown Volunteer Fire Department, had his life cut short by a farm equipment accident. The accident happened at a time when emergency services were more distantly located from her farm and the Belhaven Hospital had closed, but the Vidant Multispecialty Clinic had not opened yet.

In a rural setting like Beaufort County, paramedics play a vital role in community health. The first responders stayed with her son after they transported him to the hospital. She felt confident as a nurse and as a mother that the medics had provided the best possible care for Reid because of their thorough documentation. She emphasized this to the graduates, “If you don’t document it, it didn’t happen.”

Billy Respass, EMS program director, announced Gail Moretz as the top student in the 2018 class, and Molly Bridgeman, the first student to achieve perfect attendance. Tyler Kelly, Tanner Coble, Martin Oro, John Taylor, Bryan Gurkin, Clark Pollard, and Tanner Phelps were also among the proud graduates.

The course readies students to provide advanced medical care for critical and emergent patients who access the emergency services. Paramedics function as part of a comprehensive EMS response, under medical oversight. They perform interventions with the basic and advanced equipment typically found on an ambulance.

A new emergency training facility is in the design phase. It will include classrooms and a driving pad used to teach students to operate emergency vehicles. As part of the course, students must learn to perform techniques properly while a training ambulance is moving.

The college has also implemented a community paramedicine program, which will train paramedics to check on frequent emergency room visitors when they are not responding to emergencies in order to prevent health problems from deteriorating. This program has been enabled by $7000 from Jonathan Haven’s Trust, $5000 from Vidant Hospital Foundation and $25000 from GlaxoSmithKline. The funding allowed the college to purchase training equipment and hire an instructor to meet the specific needs of the program.

Successful graduates of the paramedic program receive a curriculum certificate and are qualified to seek state certification through the NC Office of Emergency Medical Services.

Students interested in more information about the paramedic program should contact Billy Respass at 252-940-6468 or billy.respass@beaufortccc.edu.