WNC Celebrates Paramedicine Program grads

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Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada College

An inherent responsibility to others, a great sense of accomplishment and more employment possibilities are the upshots for the 2022 graduates of Western Nevada College’s Paramedicine Program.

WNC celebrated nine graduates of the program with a ceremony Saturday on the Carson City campus. Graduates’ family members, Western officials, instructors, program supporters and the college’s community partners attended the ceremony.

“For me it feels like a great sense of accomplishment,” said graduate Garrett Schafer. “I didn’t necessarily see myself as a paramedic when I first got into things. There were a lot of different steps and sacrifices I made along the way to get to this point, but it has all been worth it and paved so many paths for me.”

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Graduates such as Schafer and Tyler Schellhammer are pairing their paramedic education with the study of fire science. They realize that with their dual skill set that they are responsible to a greater degree than other professionals.

“You really cannot afford to be weak in an area because that weakness will show 10-fold when you are in the field and are expected to know what to do, given the situation, and you are often the highest level of care until you reach the hospital,” Schellhammer said.

Added Schafer, “The biggest obstacle that I faced was accepting the amount of knowledge and responsibility that comes with being a paramedic. It is a totally different level.”

Besides Schafer and Schellhammer, the 2022 graduating class includes Cheyenne Aarons, Noel Chounet, Zachary Creager, Timothy Hoover, Matthew Nuthall, Camille Samuels and Tristin Silva.

Terry Mendez, Western’s Emergency Medical Services and Paramedicine Program coordinator, respects the training the graduates have undergone and knows what they can provide Northern Nevada communities as emergency responders.

“WNC’s Cohort No 2 has completed another grueling year of education once again through the pandemic,” Mendez said. “They have worked extremely hard to assure they meet patient needs during this health crisis. They will be prepared as entry level competent Advanced Life Support Providers to integrate into a declining workforce in Northern Nevada.”

Schafer worked a night shift, then attended his paramedicine classes during the day. Those sacrifices are worth it to him.

“I want to continue to push forward with my career as a firefighter paramedic and really work toward perfecting my craft,” Schafer said. “And the second I’m able to get a little time off, I would really like to take my wife on a vacation.”

Schellhammer must complete the fire academy before he can go to work in the community.

“I have a job offer now contingent on my completion of the fire academy and will have earned a spot as a firefighter/paramedic,” he said. “I believe that I have just found my career path and plan on going as far as I can with my new skill set.”

The Paramedicine and Emergency Medical Services program is thriving through the support of generous donations from community members such as Nancy and Mark Henker.

“We strongly believe that helping WNC’s new Paramedicine Program is one of the best investments we could ever make for the future of our community,” said Nancy Henker, graduation guest speaker and generous sponsor. 

Following the ceremony, Nancy said, “We were thrilled to meet the graduates who are ready and eager to get busy saving lives and making life better for thousands. We feel deeply privileged to be able to help programs like this through the Western Nevada College Foundation.”

To learn more about the WNC EMS and Paramedicine Program, contact terry.mendez@wnc.edu or 775-445-3231, ellie.dutton@wnc.edu or 775-445-3267, or Counseling Services at 775-445-3267.

Scholarships are also available to students through WNC Foundation. To help support the program, phone 775-445-3240 or email foundation@wnc.edu.

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