When Weatherford College’s emergency medical services program coordinator requested grant-funded supplies, she didn’t know she’d get almost everything she wanted.
Now, EMS students will learn using new, updated equipment.
Springtown resident Samantha Grimsley started working at Weatherford College as an adjunct in the EMS department in February 2021. Last May, she was promoted to program coordinator. In this role, she was tasked with requesting items to purchase through the Perkins Grant, which allocates federal funding for workforce education programs.
“I started in May 2022, and I was told in a week that Perkins Grant items were due, and I had no idea what I was doing, what that entailed, or what I needed to ask for,” Grimsley said. “I had obviously been an adjunct, but I didn't know what the program really needed per se in large ticket items.”
To make up the wish list, Grimsley said she went back to her roots. She remembered using an ambulance simulator when she was an emergency medical technician student, so she asked for one of those. She also put in bids for a slew of other items, such as a power cot stretcher, two cardiac monitors, IV pumps and a couple of ventilators.
Grimsley said she was impressed when she realized that the department would receive almost everything she asked for, which she previously didn’t expect to happen.
“I've loved seeing students’ faces when they get to see all the new equipment or the fact that we are doing something to help them do better,” she said. “It's an amazing feeling.”
The indoor ambulance simulator is basically an ambulance that doesn’t have driving capabilities. Inside, it is identical to ambulances that EMS workers use daily. Using the simulator, students will be able to practice the process of responding to a medical emergency, including putting a patient on a gurney and providing care to the patient in the ambulance, Grimsley said.
“They're now getting the most realistic training that they possibly can because that is essentially what we hear from students all the time, ‘Well, it doesn't feel real,’” she said. “We're making it as real as we possibly can get it at this point.”
Other items that were funded by the grant are replacing old or outdated equipment. For example, the EMS department will now have a power cot that will replace the department’s manual-style gurney.
Some items, like the IV pumps, also allow the educational program to stay up to date with the equipment that professional EMS departments are using. Grimsley said Parker County Hospital District and Wise County EMS are using IV pumps to deliver critical care medications, and now, the students can learn how to operate the same equipment that they would use in the local workforce.
“We wanted to have the ability to train our students on those so they wouldn't have any issues when they go to get a job outside of school and actually know how to utilize that equipment,” she said.
The goal of the EMS department is to train students so that they can successfully get certified and get to work, Grimsley said. Currently, Weatherford College’s EMS department has about 50 students with two paramedic classes and one EMT class.
“We want them to be trained so that they could pretty much walk onto an ambulance or a fire department job and not have somebody go, ‘Gosh, they’re so behind in their training, and they don't understand this,’” she said. “We want them to be successful in the long run because it's a career industry that is constantly needing people. We're a job that will essentially always be needed, and there is a need for these people.”
So, why should average Springtown residents care about Weatherford College’s EMS program?
Grimsley pointed out that Springtown residents typically pay taxes to Weatherford College, and the college provides an educational opportunity to Parker County folks that’s not far from home.
“I wanted to showcase this to the community because I think they have a right to know what is going on over here as far as training goes,” she said.
Grimsley thanked Weatherford College for allowing her to be able to help train EMS students.
- Jeff Prince
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