When Andrea Aguilera was a student at Chase High School, she knew she wanted a career in the medical field. Then, she learned about the Emergency Medical Technician course at Barton Community College.
“I completed the class and then Hoisington EMS hired me,” Aguilera recalled. “I was hooked. They roped me in from the beginning.”
That experience encouraged Aguilera to take the next step and today she is a paramedic at Hoisington and in Rice County at only 20 years old.
“Yes, I was the youngest in the EMT program and the paramedic program,” Aguilera said. “The instructors in both were very helpful and willing to answer my questions. They also offered one-on-one time – any help that was needed.”
EMT and paramedic training includes classroom and hands-on experiences; paramedic courses are followed by clinicals and an internship. Aguilera’s EMT classes took one semester and earning the state paramedic license involved two years of coursework.
“While studying for my paramedic credentials, I was sometimes on call as an EMT,” Aguilera noted. “I would respond to the call and then finish studying. I have completed everything and will participate in continuing education. We re-certify every two years.”
During her high school days, Aguilera was part of Upward Bound, a college preparation program.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without this program,” which is a collaboration between Barton and high schools.
She successfully completed many academic prerequisites while she was a full-time high school student and working three jobs. Aguilera also participated in five sports and earned a 4.0 grade point average.
Dean Dexter was Aguilera’s paramedic instructor during her time at Barton.
“Andrea is one of the youngest students I’ve had,” Dexter said. “But she was very quick to learn and eager to learn.”
Barton’s paramedic program fills a niche in rural communities that need these trained professionals.
“Sometimes people in these areas don’t have the ability to travel long distances to classes,” Dexter noted. “So, we bring paramedic classes to the rural areas.
“We use a hybrid delivery system. Students complete material by using interactive websites and we meet weekly to work on practical skills. Scenarios are structured for real-life applications.”
Scott Fleming, Hoisington EMS director and paramedic, said Andrea is mature and eager to learn.
“I am glad to take her under my wing,” he said. “Her skills are especially helpful when we transport patients to Wichita and Kansas City. It is great to have another individual with paramedic skills during our critical transports.”