Western Nevada College’s paramedicine program has only been in existence since the start of the decade but already plans are in place to celebrate the graduation of 11 paramedics. The college’s first paramedic graduation ceremony is set for Saturday at 10 a.m. in Carson Nugget Hall on the Carson City campus. WNC’s Emergency Medical Services and Paramedic Program Coordinator Terry Mendez said that by completing the program, the graduates will be eligible to sit for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT) National Certification Test. “They have completed almost 600 hours of didactic and lab coursework, over 200 hours of hospital clinical time and almost 500 hours of field internship time, and this class completed this during the largest pandemic since 1918,” Mendez said. WNC expanded its EMS classes of Emergency Medical Technician and Advanced EMT so students could further their training to become paramedics. Whether they are focused on becoming an EMT or paramedic, students will gain the knowledge and skills to respond to health emergencies and help people in times of distress. They learn how to care for people in a pre-hospital setting and will be prepared to sit for national and state testing for EMT and Advanced EMT. “This has been a huge achievement and a tremendous amount of work this past year,” said one of the 11 grads, Joshua Adams. “I've learned so many lessons throughout this program and process: lessons in life, education and plenty of professional lessons. Personally, this program has pushed me to grow not only as a healthcare provider but as a person. It's empowered me to do more for my patients and the people of Northern Nevada's community. It has been a humbling process that I am thankful for, showing me that we can always improve, learn and grow.” Besides Adams, graduates are Anthony Abuan, Josef Almeida, Melissa Fraguela, Megan Jackson, Heather Alexander, Sarah Minkle, Connor Nicholas, Kraig Palmer, Jerry Sanchez and Paul White. Mendez said that currently more than half of the students in the program are employed as EMS workers. Upon completion of the program, students will develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for an entry-level paramedic and are eligible to sit for national and state testing for emergency medical technician, advanced emergency medical technician and paramedic. “What WNC wants to do is bring quality education to the community, so we have consolidated these into Certificate of Achievement pathways that will eventually lead to an associate degree,” Mendez said. “This allows students to develop their education foundation with some of the general education requirements and begin that process of becoming a college student. This works into the paramedic pathway for those who want to make it a career.” Adams said that the program has brought him closer to his dream of becoming a firefighter paramedic. “This program has absolutely handed me the tools to succeed in my goals,” he said. “This program has only kindled that fire to burn brighter than before. With this program I'm another step closer to achieving that goal and am currently applying for a firefighter paramedic position. This would not be possible had it not been for this amazing program that I've had the privilege to go through.” Because of the ongoing health pandemic, each graduate will be limited to the number of guests who can attend the ceremony. It won’t be the first time that the pandemic has affected the grads. “Completing this demanding and challenging program was already a huge commitment, let alone doing it during the current health pandemic,” Adams said. “Taking on this program during the pandemic certainly wasn't easy. I was fortunate enough to have a passionate and hardworking staff at WNC to make this possible. We kept classes going through Zoom meetings, could email our instructor at any time and still had many great guest lectures. Although the pandemic did make this challenge seem insurmountable at times, there was a silver lining: It gave us more motivation to not only complete the program but to come out as exemplary paramedics and advocates to make a positive impact on a world that's in need of it.” Mendez said that potential candidates of the program can learn more by contacting him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-445-3231 and Student Services at email@example.com or 775-445-3267. Scholarships are also available to students through WNC Foundation.