Graduation for the second EMT Basic program offered by KenTenn EMS was held on Thursday, June 10, 2021at the Harvey Vick Community Room in South Fulton. Family, friends, and community members joined graduates to celebrate their achievements over the Spring semester.
This year's program looked a bit different than last year. The pandemic created many challenges we weren't prepared for. We used those challenges as a learning tool to be better prepared, and not let the virus or quarantining halt instruction and learning. With the financial help of a $1,000 Change for Community grant, we were able to upgrade technology that was equipped to handle videoconferencing.
The graduation event was catered by Fancy Fannies Bakery. Our cake featured an ambulance this year. Director Kevin Kelley addressed the crowd at the beginning of the event and shared the hurdles this class faced. After the loss of grant funding held by the Four Rivers Career Academy, the class was moved from Hickman to the Fulton Ambulance Base. We consider this to be a blessing now as it has justified the need to remodel the classroom space in the building to better serve future classes.
Class being located within the Fulton Base allowed many KenTenn EMS employees to get involved with the program. This became a great asset as events were planned and held, such as the mock extrication and mass casualty scenarios. Students also got the opportunity to meet and interact with a variety of EMS professionals each class, contributing to a great learning and supportive environment.
Our ambulance service has taken a special interest in the health care needs of this community, expanding into the education realm of the EMS industry. A logo for our education role of the organization was created, titled "KTEMS Academy". The logo features a textbook, successful individual moving "upward", and lightbulb, which we feel represents our goals of the Academy; knowledge, advancement, and opportunity. The class finished with six graduates, who are acknowledged below.
Jason Arnold, McKenzie Fire Department Battalion Chief
Jonathan Castleman, Firefighter for Martin Fire/Rescue/EMS & McKenzie Fire Dept.
Ashley Fortner, KenTenn EMS Administrative Assistant
Masi Heintz, Skill Up TN Recipient
William Smith, Firefighter for Martin Fire/Rescue/EMS
Matthew Wiseman, Obion County Rescue Squad volunteer
As you will notice, many of these students are already employed or serving an EMS agency. Their EMT certification and medical training will greatly enhance their abilities to serve their respective communities. You will see many of these faces again as they plan to pursue their Advanced EMT certifications this Fall semester.
McKenzie Fire Department Chief Brian Tucker (center), pictured with personnel Jason Arnold & Jonathan Castleman
Martin Fire Chief Jamie Summers (right), pictured with personnel William Smith and Jonathan Castleman
We can't recognize our graduates without also thanking folks who brought this program to fruition. Lead Instructor Joe Smith, and assisting instructors Anna Gaskins (Air Evac 143 Program Director) and Mike Gunn (Fulton City Manager) were gifted pottery items and their favorite snacks. The students thanked the instructors for their time, encouragement, and sincere investment leading students to success.
The Fiscal Court has generously donated funding to help purchase jump bags for First Responders. The Rotary Club also donated $500 toward program equipment purchases. Our Medical Director, James Fisette, was also acknowledged for a $1,500 donation toward equipment. Remaining equipment purchases were funded by memorial donations. Gretchen Dillard, sister-in-law of one of our Full-time staff members, passed away earlier this year from stage 4 colon cancer. Her family named the ambulance service as a source of donations.
Pictured here is KenTenn EMS Director Kevin Kelley (right) with Gretchen's family, Wanda Sandling (Mother), Gina Jones (sister) and Evie Jones (Niece). Dillard was a Twin Cities resident. She graduated from Fulton High School in 1990 and Columbia College (Chicago) in 1995. She was married to husband John Dillard for 3 years. $560 was donated in memorial of Gretchen Dillard and also used for EMT equipment purchases that will improve the quality of training students receive.
This blog post is long overdue, but we are glad we can share that ALL SIX STUDENTS have passed their National Registry Exams!! We are very proud of each student and their hard work. We appreciate the support of our community in making this program a success. We certainly couldn't do it without you.
The Fall semester will begin in August. We will proceed with our third EMT Basic program, as well as the inaugural Advanced EMT course. Stay connected with us by visiting our website and social media pages. We look forward to sharing in the journey of educating EMS personnel!