(HARLINGEN, Texas) – A paramedic often works side by side with firefighters to provide advanced medical support when helping a patient in a medical crisis.
Texas State Technical College Emergency Medical Services alumnus Richard McLaughlin, who is a firefighter himself, has utilized his medical training to save people’s lives.
“I used to live in Dallas when I was young, and the work of EMS professionals fascinated me,” he said. “A friend told me that a local fire department was looking for firefighter volunteers. So I signed up. I worked with an EMS team and observed how they helped patients. It was captivating. I knew I wanted to pursue that career. I relocated to South Texas to start the next chapter of my life.”
Prior to his education at TSTC, he accepted a job as a full-time firefighter with the city of Edinburg’s Fire Department.
“As a requirement for employment, a candidate is required to enroll in an Emergency Medical Technician basic course,” he said. “The training was held at TSTC’s Harlingen campus. I completed the courses and earned a certificate of completion in EMT. Then I gained experience as an EMT with Med-Care EMS in McAllen in 2018. I supported the unit through service and drove to emergency locations. That experience inspired me to return to TSTC and become a paramedic.”
McLaughlin earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Paramedic from TSTC in 2020.
With the credential of an associate degree, McLaughlin accepted a job as a part-time licensed paramedic with the city of Pharr’s EMS team and continued working as a firefighter.
“My job as a paramedic was to provide advanced life support to patients,” he said.
Another job opportunity arose when he became a part-time emergency room paramedic with Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in McAllen in January.
“I perform assessments such as an EKG (electrocardiogram), stroke scale and other triage skills,” he said.
McLaughlin said each company that he has worked for has had a special culture.
“The camaraderie at the city of Edinburg’s Fire Department has been enjoyable,” he said. “At Med-Care EMS, I succeeded through the paramedics’ knowledge. At the city of Pharr, EMS professionals guided me through real-world experiences. As for DHR, nurses and doctors have increased my knowledge through ER experiences.”
He credits his training in TSTC’s EMS program for his professional success.
“The instructors are intelligent and made the subject matter easy to understand,” he said. “Every aspect of the hands-on training was fascinating. I learned proper techniques needed to perform my job at the highest level.”
McLaughlin said his future plans include completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing at the University of Texas at Arlington.
“I want to become a registered nurse and then a nurse practitioner,” he said.
Ruben Ramirez, a TSTC EMS coordinator and instructor, said McLaughlin’s professionalism has contributed to his success.
“Richard’s dedication to be an elite medical professional demonstrates his commitment to the EMS field,” he said.
According to onetonline.org, the need for emergency medical technicians in Texas was expected to grow 19% between 2020 and 2030.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Paramedic, as well as certificates of completion in Emergency Medical Services – EMT, Emergency Medical Services – Advanced EMT AEMT, and Emergency Medical Services – Paramedic. Additionally, the college offers an occupational skills achievement award in Emergency Medical Services – EMT. The program is available at the Abilene, Brownwood and Harlingen campuses.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.