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PHCC welcomes new paramedic director

Kari Whitney

Whitney, also serving as a paramedic firefighter, said as a field-training officer, she taught students and worked with them every day.

“In addition to teaching at Roanoke County, I also taught EMT (emergency medical technician) over there and helped with their intermediate and paramedic program,” she said. “After working with students, I found that I really have a passion for EMS education, and I wanted to get into it full-time.”

Being out in the field as a paramedic firefighter, Whitney said she found a need for well-trained and well-educated officers.

“Being able to fall into the role of being responsible for putting those well-educated paramedics out there is something I take a lot of pride in and have a lot of passion for,” she said. “The field is always in need of more providers… I want to be able to say that I turned over some really good paramedics.”

Although Whitney is an instructor, she said the learning doesn’t stop for her. To keep her certifications up-to-date, she continues to take courses as new information becomes available.

“As I’m teaching, I’m learning every day,” she said. “If I’m going to teach my students, I have to be up-to-date and constantly learning. I learn from my students all the time. They may be researching and trying to learn more about something, and if it’s not something I’ve heard about, I’ll go do my own research and try to find out.”

In addition to the skills needed to become an EMT or paramedics, Whitney said students must also show dedication to the job.

“Dedication is key – this is a program where there is a lot required of a student,” she said. “There are a lot of hours and a lot of studying, so the dedication has to be there. This isn’t the type of program you float through. It’s something that you want to do and want to do well.”

Whitney said it’s great when students score an “A” on all their tests, but eventually, it comes down to trust.

“I ask students if they would trust themselves with the knowledge they’ve obtained to treat a loved one, family member or friend,” she said. “I tell them to be the very best they can be, and to push their classmates to do the same. You never know who’s going to be taking care of someone you love.”

PHCC offers an associate of applied science degree in emergency medical services – paramedic. Career studies certificates also are available in the emergency medical technician program in three levels: basic, intermediate and paramedic.

An EMT course is being offered this summer beginning June 3 and ending July 31. The deadline to register for this course is May 16. The intermediate and paramedic portions of the program will begin in fall 2014. For additional information, call (276) 656-0328 or visit