EMS Bridging Engages and Encourages Student Leaders

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Emergency Medical Services Student Image

At the Bridge Program pinning ceremony, 18 TMCC Emergency Medical Services students were honored with the level of blue or red. The deadline to apply for the next Paramedic class cohort is June 3.

On March 16, a group of almost 20 tall-standing TMCC students were honored and pinned by their mentors to the level of blue or red in a Bridge Program ceremony for the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Program. Students’ family members, college officials, members of the community, faculty, and staff were in attendance.

“I’ve been an Emergency Medical Technician for four years,” said Scott Lawrence, who is intending to be a paramedic student. “Participating in the Bridge Program shows my dedication to the field and will help me move forward in the program.”

His teacher, Mike Schulz, Paramedic and EMS faculty member, developed a prototype for the Bridge Program while doing his undergraduate work in California. He then brought the idea up to Northern Nevada where it was first implemented.

“The Bridge program gives students direction, moving them in steps to keep them highly involved,” Schulz said. “They put in extra time and effort beyond their regular classes. They take ownership of their education in the E.M.S. field.”

“About 70 to 80 percent of the E.M.S. Basic and E.M.S. Advanced students who plan to matriculate through onto Paramedic school typically elect to participate in the voluntary program," Schulz said. “The Bridge Program ribbons show their advancement and help them move up in their academic careers from E.M.T. to Advanced, and ultimately to Paramedic. Those who are awarded the ribbons wear them on their uniforms. They are highly regarded by their peers and faculty.”

Future students are advised to apply for the next paramedic cohort class by the deadline of June 3.

Blue, red and gold levels of the Bridge Program

A few of the many activities at each level include:

  • Attend two events, and organize one community engagement volunteer event
  • Write research papers on a disease process and present it to a paramedic class
  • Write reflection papers on why they want to be a paramedic, or what was learned in a class
  • Spend a set number of hours shadowing a paramedic mentor

“It gives students milestones, skills endorsements, and the momentum to move up in the EMS Program,” Schulz said. “The students attend and organize community engagement activities, and shadow a paramedic mentor. The mentors pin the ribbons on the students, which is a big source of pride for them.”

Each level takes a certain number of hours to complete, about 118-120 hours total:

  • Blue level: 48 hours beyond normal coursework
  • Red level: 28 hours beyond normal coursework
  • Gold level: 42 hours beyond normal coursework

“When they’re pinned with gold, they’re guaranteed a seat in the Paramedic Program and can bypass the panel interview — then the real work begins,” Schulz said. “The application is competitive, and gold assures the applicant a spot in the Paramedic Program.”

Since Schulz implemented the Bridge program, the applications for Paramedic school have tripled, he added.

“Once the students are enrolled in Paramedic school, we are looking forward to start collecting more data on attrition and success rates, which will determine the true success of the program,” Schulz said.

Brittany Dolly, Class President said that bridging brings further challenges to her fellow E.M.S. majors.

“The Bridge program process pushes students to achieve their highest level of dedication,” she said.

Lawrence agrees.

“Just last week, I got off shift at 7 a.m. at work and went to class, before going right back to work again,” he said.

The E.M.S. Club organizes community events

Students in the E.M.S. Club meet once a month, and also keep a group chat on their phones to be in constant contact with each other. Officers for the Club are:

  • President: Heather Fisher
  • Vice President: Jacob Keesling
  • Secretary: Michael Lingenfelter
  • Treasurer: Brittany Gruhler
  • Faculty Advisor: Paramedic Mike Schulz

The Club organizes community engagement activities such as:

  • Assisting local organizations in feeding homeless residents
  • Community clean-up partnerships with Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB)
  • Volunteering at Ronald McDonald House Charities
  • Spending time with young students in the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows (BGCTM)
  • Landscaping and clipping roses, assisting at the Reno Rose Gardens
  • Handing off iPods to seniors, coaching them in how to operate the music-playing devices

“Engaging at extended care facilities is good for the students, because it gets them more used to the environment,” Schulz said. “As an E.M.S Provider they will frequently respond to extended care facilities. These professionals see people when they’re sick, scared and not at their best. We want to have students see people when they’re healthy and happy, so they see the whole person.”

Many times, paramedics are responding when people are severely injured or dying.

“When students have seen the full range of people’s lives, they’re less stressed out by the day-in, day-out responsibilities they handle, especially when every time people call you, it’s bad news,” Schulz said. “Our students are prepared in every way by being compassionate, competent, and having the character to handle just about any type of emergency.”

More information about Paramedic classes

Applications are now being accepted. The next cohort of the Paramedic Program begins in August, and the deadline to apply for this set of classes is June 3.

More information can be found by contacting the TMCC EMS Program at 775-789-5555 or 775-789-5511.

List of EMS Students Pinned in March:

  • Austin Brown: Blue
  • Spencer DeBerry: Blue
  • Heather Fisher: Red
  • Nicolas Garcia: Blue
  • Jillian Harrison: Blue
  • Jacob Keesling: Red
  • Nick Knight: Blue, Red
  • Scott Lawrence: Blue
  • Michael Lingenfelter: Blue, Red
  • Laramie Lucas: Blue, Red
  • Mitchell McIntosh: Blue
  • April Nelson: Blue, Red
  • Daniel Ortega: Blue
  • Madelyn Pratt: Red
  • Anil Ratti: Blue, Red
  • Anthony Schiro: Blue
  • Connor Smith: Blue, Red