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Seven Graduate from the Surry Community College Paramedic Program

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Seven students recently graduated from Surry Community College’s Paramedic Program, which follows the National EMS Educational Standards and is approved by the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services.

The Paramedic graduation was held February 9, on the SCC campus in Dobson. Graduates are Robert Blizard, Layne McCreary, Alexus Timmons, Nathan Whitaker, and Justin Wilmoth, all of Mount Airy, Landon Douglas of Elkin, and Tabitha Nicholson of Dobson.

Kenneth Vaught, SCC Coordinator of Emergency Medical Services, says, “This has been a great class. We are excited to no longer call them students, but colleagues.”

Mary Blackburn, RN, MSN, FACHE, Chief Clinical Officer and Vice President for Care Innovation at Hugh Chatham Health, was the guest speaker. She spoke to the class about remaining compassionate and empathetic with patients and how those qualities are very instrumental in treatment.

Also speaking was Dr. Darrell Nelson, Medical Director of SCC Emergency Medical Programs, who talked to the graduates about how the work and effort to be effective paramedics never stops as they continue to learn and adapt to new medical insights. Dr. David Shockley, President of Surry Community College, spoke about the need for healthcare providers in Emergency Medical Services and recognized the dedication these students have going into such a prestigious and important profession.

Also attending the event were Dr. Candace Holder, SCC Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, Dr. Ashley Morrison, SCC Vice President of Instruction, Forrest Lineberry, SCC Vice President of Student Services, along with several of the program instructors. Several representatives from Hugh Chatham Health, Northern Regional Hospital, and Surry County EMS, which are program clinical sites, were also present.

The class elected Nathan Whitaker as the class representative to speak at the graduation. He relayed how he became interested in EMS, about the class friendships that helped him get through the course, as well as the excitement of their future in EMS. Whitaker was also presented as the class valedictorian, which is a title earned by having the highest grade over the entire course.

The 2024 Kirk R. Killon EMS Star of Life Award was presented to Justin Wilmoth. This award was created by SCC staff to recognize a student who shows extraordinary dedication to knowledge and exemplary professionalism in the field of Emergency Medical Services in honor of Kirk Killon, former director of the SCC Emergency Medical Services program.

Superlative awards were given out during the ceremony and are as follows: “Most Ideal Partner,” Robert Blizard; “Most Dedicated,” Tabitha Nicholson; the “Comedian Award,” Nathan Whitaker; and “Most Supportive,” Alexus Timmons. These awards were voted on by class members to recognize the students who gave the most encouragement throughout the class and who would be their ideal partners working on a medic unit in EMS.

The “Most Improved” award was given to Layne McCreary. This award is given to the person with the most improved grade over the entire course.

Students enrolled in the Paramedic Program put in more than 1,200 hours of class time including 500 hours of clinical study in order to prepare to serve their communities in emergency situations. Graduates have the choice to take either the N.C. State Exam or National Registry, and most graduates decide to take both tests.

Surry Community College offers a Paramedic Initial course each year. The course is designed to develop knowledge and skills for the advanced emergency care of ill or injured persons and is approved by the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services.

Principle methods of instruction include lecture, demonstrations, skills evaluations, and both hospital and field internships. Specific training areas include administration of IV fluids, advanced airway management, the administration of pre-hospital advanced life support medications and cardiac monitoring. The course also includes Endurance Training for EMS (ETEMS), which is physical training that is incorporated into the program with physical therapy sessions at the end of each class day to better prepare the students for the physical and mental stresses of the paramedic profession.

For questions about any of SCC’s emergency medical courses, contact Dr. Doug Underwood, Director of EMS Programs, at (336) 386-3584 or underwoodd@surry.edu.

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