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Paramedics Ready to Save Lives

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Paramedic Graduation Ceremony Image

Paramedic graduate Heather Fisher received a Best Skills Performance award at the graduation ceremony on Aug. 26.

“We should show compassion to everyone we meet, always,” said Justin Claman, Paramedic Class 28 President. “And we should always continue our education.”

Paramedic Class 28 is the largest ever to graduate from Truckee Meadows Community College. The 23 new Paramedics are ready to help save lives after completing what Instructor Terry Mendez, EMT-P said is the most difficult course of study there is. Every graduate is eligible to complete the PreHospital Emergency Medicine AAS degree and move into the bachelor's degree in Emergency Management and Homeland Security (EMSHS).

Six of the graduates already have been offered jobs in Reno, Carson City, and out-of-state fire departments, according to Chief Darryl Cleveland, Director of EMSHS, and the Fire Academy at TMCC. At the graduation ceremony on Aug. 26, he offered words of wisdom as a 35-year veteran in the fire and emergency medical services field.

“I want you to take care of you, I want you to take care of your families, and I want you to take care of the people you respond to on your job that really need you,” he said.

Grads Are Ready to Serve Their Community

Newly graduated Paramedic Sarah Nemeth had a clearly apparent spring in her step at the ceremony.

“For me, I’ve been interested in the medical field and especially the emergency side—to be able to help someone when they’re having the worst day of their life, and to make even a small difference,” she said. “Hopefully to give them a better outcome than they would have had before.”

Paramedic Anil Ratti was especially thanked by his instructors for always being willing to assist with the live demos of procedures that helped his fellow classmates learn. He let his teachers know beforehand that he was willing to volunteer in this way.

Ratti participated in demonstrations that involved having a nasogastric tube inserted from his nose to his stomach, breathing with a CPAP machine that greatly increased air pressure in the airway covering his nose and mouth, and volunteering for the precordial thump, a hard hit in the chest that is used for cardiac arrest patients to re-start their heart.

“The live demos help the learning process—it’s a lot easier to see something done in person,” he said.

Did he get squeamish during these demos?

“No, the instructor talks you through it and you keep an open mind,” he added.

Advice from Instructors and Chief Mike Brown

“We can do all the most wonderful things, the most magical things in the world—what matters the most is getting that call in the middle of the night when you think you can’t go another minute and go to someone’s home and hold a child in your arms, and you call in all your professional skills and experience—that will be what matters and is most fulfilling,” said Mike Schulz, EMT-P Instructor.

Chief Mike Brown, who is a 38-year veteran of fire and emergency medical services and still a licensed Paramedic was the featured guest speaker at the August ceremony. He retired from the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District in 2016.

“Treat others as you’d want to be treated, and communicate gently,” he said. “Be confident in your abilities and continue your education. Thank your family and spend time with your family.”

Awards for Graduating Paramedics

Chief Cleveland and Instructors Mendez and Schulz presented awards to Class 28, including:

  • Class Secretary: Jacob Keesling
  • Class President: Justin Claman
  • Class Vice President: Heather Fisher
  • Best Skills Performance: Heather Fisher
  • Most Community Engagement Hours: Bradley Bolton
  • Best Clinical Performance: Bryan Hallauer
  • Salutatorian: Anil Ratti
  • Valedictorian: Daniel Cummings

“Paramedics have to go into someone’s house that we’ve never met and give them the best outcome possible,” Mendez said. “Sometimes we have to put ourselves at risk for someone we’ve never met—and that’s what it’s all about.”

For more information about the Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedic programs, or the bachelor's degree in Emergency Management and Homeland Security (EMSHS), please call the EMS Department at 775-336-4270.