(ABILENE, Texas) – Erik Duenes was asked a simple question while working in his hometown of Ozona.
“I was working in maintenance at a nursing home, and the director of the EMS (emergency medical services) asked me if I wanted to drive an ambulance,” said the Texas State Technical College student. “I knew it was a chance to make some extra money.”
What Duenes, who is studying to become a paramedic, did not expect was for a career to unfold.
“I took my first emergency medical technician class at the local service, and I was hooked. I went on to earn advanced EMT certification, and now I am studying to be a paramedic. I never thought I would fall in love with the medical field.”
Duenes said he is working to become a paramedic to support his wife and two children.
“I wanted to be able to provide for them. They are the fire that drives me to succeed,” he said.
In his first semester, Duenes has been impressed with the lab sessions and clinical work.
“Everything has been really good,” he said. “I knew becoming a paramedic would be more demanding. I understood that there would be more studying and work, and prepared myself for it.”
Duenes said his experience at TSTC has been more than he expected, especially during the Wednesday lab sessions.
“I did not realize we would have so much one-on-one time and be able to work with each other,” he said. “I knew there would be studying, but to come here on Wednesdays and execute what we have learned is the best part of the week.”
Duenes also likes learning from experienced instructors.
“They know how everything is supposed to be done. They want everyone to work together to succeed,” he said.
TSTC was the perfect choice for Duenes, and he hopes more people study Emergency Medical Services at the TSTC campuses in Abilene, Brownwood or Harlingen.
“My EMS director in Ozona graduated from TSTC. So I am kind of following in his footsteps,” he said. “I have told other EMTs I know that they need to come to TSTC and study.”
The state of Texas has more than 20,600 EMT-paramedics employed statewide, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Duenes wants to be part of that group.
“I am ready to get back out there and work with the new skills I am learning,” he said.
For more information, visit tstc.edu.