Press Release from Coahoma Community College Public Relations; (662) 621-4061 - Brittany Davis-Green - firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured, front row, from left, are Camecia Hayes of Cleveland, MS; Khristy Johnson of kosciusko, MS; Jennifer Watkins of Memphis, TN (back row) Chris Whitfield, Clinical Coordinator; Heidi Wilder, Adjunct Paramedic Instructor; Cheyenne Bowie of Grenada, MS; Troy Barbieri of Clarksdale, MS; Kevin Whitsell of Southaven, MS; Angela Vance of Ridgeland, MS; Charles Stillman of Greenville, MS; Rhett Nelson Program Director; Bert Stallings EMT Instructor.
CLARKSDALE – Coahoma Community College recognized the latest graduates of its Paramedic program Tuesday during a special graduation ceremony.
The ceremony, held at 10 a.m. in the Georgia Lewis Theatre, featured eight graduates who completed the intensive, four-semester certificate program. They were: Camecia Hayes of Cleveland, MS; Khristy Johnson of Kosciusko, MS; Jennifer Watkins of Memphis, TN: Cheyenne Bowie of Grenada, MS; Troy Barbieri of Clarksdale, MS; Kevin Whitsell of Southaven, MS; Angela Vance of Ridgeland, MS; and Charles Stillman of Greenville, MS.
Paramedics “bring the emergency room to the patient” by providing advanced life support skills to stabilize patients both on the scene and en route to a hospital. For the past two years, the graduates worked around the clock to complete the program designed to prepare them for careers as paramedics in a variety of healthcare settings and for the National Registry for EMTs testing program leading to national certification.
The group marks the second class to complete CCC’s Paramedic program since its inception.
“I’ve seen you work hard over the months,” said CCC Dean of Health Sciences Beverly Overton. “It’s always interesting when the Paramedic students are having class. …I just want to thank you for choosing CCC.”
Following the presentation of certificates, graduates receiving special honors and awards were recognized. Troy Barbieri received the award for Highest Academic Average; Angela Vance the Clinical Leadership; and Khristy Johnson the Class Leadership award.
The Childress-Mitchell Award, the department’s highest honor presented to a student who persevered through adversity, was presented to Charles Stillman. The award is named in honor of the late Gene Childress and Paul Mitchell—both Bolivar County paramedics that were well-known for providing exemplary patient care and embodying the spirit of providing service to others. Paul Mitchell’s sisters Karen Mitchell-Tobia and Brenda Mitchell presented the prestigious award.
Keynote speaker, Johnny Brister, a paramedic who practiced for many years in the Bolivar County area, highlighted the ceremony.
Brister was among the first group of paramedics to practice in the Mississippi Delta in the mid-1980s. Because the profession was still new, he said many didn’t understand or respect the “ambulance drivers”.
“We really had to prove ourselves to doctors and community members because it was all so new to the area,” he said.
Brister then shared exciting and oftentimes traumatic stories as he schooled the graduates on “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the profession.
“As a new paramedic, you can become easily overwhelmed,” he said. “You’ll have to cry afterwards sometimes. …In many cases you’re going to have to be able to suppress your emotion—you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Brister said while it’s important for the paramedic to take care of their patients, it’s also important that they care for themselves. He admonished the graduates “eat right, exercise, and don’t over-indulge in anything.”
In his conclusion, he encouraged the new paramedics to be humble, set good examples for colleagues, and give back to the community.
“I wouldn’t trade my time in EMS for anything,” said Brister. “It was some of the best times of my life. I pray your future in EMS will be as blessed and as rich as mines was. May God bless you for the career choice you’ve made in serving others.”
CLICK HERE to view more photos from the ceremony!