Walters State Community College’s Division of Public Safety held a small graduation ceremony for the nine members of its 2021 class. The graduates, already working at ambulance and rescue services, have completed possibly the most intensive course in the program’s history.
“Our paramedic students work on the front lines of healthcare and many have been involved in COVID-19 emergency calls,” said John Reeves, fire science and paramedic program director at Walters State.
“They are often the first health care providers to make contact with COVID patients. Regardless of the patient’s status, students provided excellent care. Students in both the class of 2020 and the class of 2021 were focused on completing the program, despite any changes made due to the pandemic. No other class has had to overcome these obstacles. To say that I am proud is an understatement.
“Every graduate has made and will continue to make a difference and I am honored to have helped them along their journey,” Reeves said.
Speaker Chief Lee Turner of the Jefferson City Fire Department encouraged paramedics to treat each patient as though they were family members. Turner was a graduate of Walters State’s third paramedic class.
Graduates are Dakota Gibson and Albert Marion, both of Sneedville and of the Hancock County EMS; \Larry Hance (Jefferson County EMS) and Meghan Sallah (Morristown-Hamblen EMS), both of Morristown; Andrew Houk of Bulls Gap and the Morristown EMS; James Miller of Greeneville and the Greeneville/Greene County EMS; Erynn Tauchen of Strawberry Plains and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Christopher Whaley of Gatlinburg and the Sevier County Ambulance Service; and Haley Williams of Dandridge and Morristown-Hamblen EMS.
Krystal Kanipe of Morristown and the Sevier County Ambulance Service received the Preceptor Appreciation Award, given annually to an outstanding clinical training partner.
Six student awards were given. Williams was named Paramedic Student of the Year. Sallah received the leadership award. Miller received the professional development award. Whaley received the clinical excellence award. Marion received the academic excellence award.
Tauchen received the Douglas Allen Johnston Award of Excellence. This award, given in memory of the late Douglas Allen Johnston, is given to students who demonstrate exemplary performance in academics, laboratory skills and clinical practice. Johnston lost his courageous battle against cancer while a paramedic student. Johnston had been involved in emergency medicine since volunteering at an ambulance service at the age of 17.
Walters State offers a technical certificate and an associate of applied science in paramedic.