(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Rebecca Mendez is committed to completing Texas State Technical College’s Paramedic program.
Living in Sweetwater, working in Abilene and taking classes in Brownwood is Mendez’s weekly routine. She said it takes support from everyone — from her family to co-workers, TSTC Emergency Medical Services instructor Tim Scalley and fellow students.
“It has been hard to find that balance between family, work and school,” she said. “But I have support from so many people to complete the paramedic program.”
Scalley said Mendez’s commitment will lead to a promising career.
“Her commitment shows each time she is in class,” Scalley said. “You have to be committed to complete the program, and I know she will be working hard to achieve her goal of graduating. She will make a good paramedic because of her dedication.”
Mendez knows that the two-year program will be intense.
“The attention to details we have to learn on the different skills is a lot to take in,” she said.
Mendez, who graduated from TSTC’s Emergency Medical Services program in 2020, also noticed that becoming a paramedic involves more responsibility.
“There are more things we can do as a paramedic than as an EMT (emergency medical technician),” she said. “That includes being able to provide patients with more medications. As an EMT, we are only allowed to give two medications in the field. As a paramedic, it will be over 50, so we have to know the dosage for each medicine.”
The intensity will increase when the students begin training in the new virtual reality lab later this month. The lab allows students to simulate a response to a certain crisis in a virtual setting, complete with sounds and smells.
“I cannot wait to begin training in the virtual reality lab,” she said. “This is going to make our experience more realistic. We will not know what to expect when we are in the lab.”
Before she enrolled in the program, Mendez was not sure that she wanted to continue her education. After consulting with the college’s EMS instructors, however, the decision was easy to make.
“After I talked to some of the instructors, I knew it was the right decision to come back,” she said. “If it was not for the passion of the instructors, I may not have continued. The instructors are great to work with because they know so much about the field.”
Another reason she returned was the hands-on experience that TSTC offers students.
“The best way for me to learn is with my hands,” she said. “I am so glad we have a hands-on program to learn the skills we need in the field.”
Mendez hopes more people take advantage of the program in Brownwood.
“Not a lot of people know about the program and that it is available in Brownwood,” she said. “I would suggest people interested in the field come talk to Tim to see what is offered. This is a great way to earn a degree — and a career.”
According to onetonline.org, the need for paramedics is forecast to increase 11% by 2028. Currently Texas has 19,690 paramedics employed statewide with an average annual salary of $35,940, the website stated.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree for the paramedic program, as well as several certificates of completion for Emergency Medical Services. The paramedic and EMS programs are offered at the Abilene, Brownwood and Harlingen campuses.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.