For Immediate Release
The knock on your door comes in the middle of the night; the response to your 9-1-1 call that you’ve been waiting for, heart in throat .... Very possibly, the person you open the door for is a graduate of the Paramedic Program at Southwest Tennessee Community College. In the Memphis area, thousands of such calls are answered annually, more often than not by emergency personnel who received their training at Southwest.
"We have seen tremendous growth in this field in the past five years," said Glenn Faught, who heads up the emergency medical technology programs at Southwest. "We have companies that are hiring Southwest Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and paramedic graduates in ambulance services, fire department rescue squads, hospitals, physician clinics, and industries. Interest in our paramedic program has grown to the point that we've instituted both fall and spring start-up classes. We are the largest program in the state of Tennessee and the Mid-South, as well as one of the largest in the country."
Says Department Head/Allied Health Chair, Dr. Darius Wilson, "The success of the Paramedic Program is directly related to [our] experienced and dedicated faculty." Dr. Wilson said the professionals in the clinical training sites allow the students to rotate at the various facilities where the cognitive information gained in the classroom connects with the psychomotor objectives needed for the "real patient care" situations students will eventually encounter.
On August 29, the largest class in the history of the department will begin training. Applicants field a rigorous battery of questions and demands for supporting prior experience and qualifications before they even face the student selection committee interviewers. This includes a psychological profile, which is analyzed by program psychologist Dr. Vaughn E. Stimbert, who has been with the program since its inception at the former Shelby State Community College. Integral to the success of the program, he is available as needed for consultation.
When registration got seriously underway in early August, 135 applicants, a record number, presented their credentials, according to Faught. Of these, 85 – another record – qualified for the oral interview, including Rhonda French who was on the medical team that aided Dean Glenn Swinny three months earlier when he collapsed in cardiac arrest at the Southwest commencement. Those 85 crowded into the halls of the Allied Health Building at the Union Avenue Campus on August 5 to meet with the committee of 30 medical professionals. Actually, said Faught, our "success" in recruiting such a large number of qualified applicants could have been a problem that day. "But our admissions liaison, Assistant Director Tim Davis, worked with each candidate, made sure they had everything together, and kept the lines flowing in easy order through the committee room."
Dr. Loren A. Crown, medical director for the program, heads the committee, and has the most personal understanding of the need for competent first care responders: both he and his wife have been recipients of care that required the knowledge and training of EMTs. Those who provided it were graduates of the Southwest EMT Program. An emergency room physician, Dr. Crown is the former chief of the emergency medical department at Baptist Covington and was one of the founders of the Memphis Paramedic Pre-Hospital Program. He has been with the Southwest program more than 30 years and is actively involved in lecturing, counseling, and testing the paramedic students on a periodic basis.
The driving force for the emergency medical services (EMS) person must be the desire to help others, according to Faught. "We take care of them in a situation where they cannot take care of themselves. We see them at their worst time when they need someone to help them through their crisis." The EMS provider operates in the pre-hospital arena. "So we want to know how much out-of-hospital emergency practice experience the prospective paramedic student has achieved. We look also for integrity, honesty, and team leadership capability." Other requirements include a current basic EMT Tennessee license, a battery of tests for EMT knowledge, and completion of the anatomy and physiology course.
"Once this is completed, they proceed to the oral interview, and the long lines here today emphasize the degree of interest in the program. We will calculate the results and accept the 74 highest scoring students for fall. Those who do not get in will be automatically considered for the spring class," said Faught.
Photo caption: Dr. Loren A. Crown, seated left and Dr. Vaughn E. Stimbert, seated right, check with Tim Davis, left, on number of students waiting for interviews. Glenn Faught, background standing, answers questions from committee members.
Photo caption: Prospective paramedic students line halls waiting for committee interviews.