Mercy Health Love County - News

Area's Newest Paramedics Are Tops in Their Class

Posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Dan McLeod, SOAS; Richard Barker, Mercy Health/Love County Administrator; Alex Scott, SOAS; and Brandon Mathews, William Heath, and John Gilliam, Love County EMS, participated in paramedic graduation at Kiamichi Technology Center. (Photo by Connie Barker)

Go to the head of the class, Love County EMS and Mercy Health/Love County! 

The only EMS in Oklahoma to offer Paramedic and Basic EMT education to the public graduated its first paramedics in July. 

William "Obie" Heath and Brandon Mathews of Love County EMS, and Dan McLeod, Jessie Stevenson, and Alex Scott of Southern Oklahoma Ambulance Service (SOAS) in Ardmore, never had to leave Marietta to earn 45 hours of academic credit. 

A paramedic instructor at Kiamichi Technology Center in Poteau provided 18 months of lectures to them through two-way teleconferencing set up by the hospital’s training center. John Gilliam, hospital/EMS training officer, administered 400 hours of skills training and coordinated the program. 

The local class participated in the distance-learning initiative with 15 other students enrolled at
technology centers in Enid, Tahlequah, Stigler, Idabel, and Antlers. 

Marietta produced the class valedictorian (Heath), salutatorian (McLeod), and outstanding leader  (Gilliam), according to Lisa Dyer, Kiamichi instructor. All were honored at paramedic graduation ceremonies  at Poteau on July 11. 

"It was a very demanding 18 months but we had a good instructor and John Gilliam did an
outstanding job to make sure we were proficient at the skills when it came time to be tested," said Mathews, who is also a trained firefighter with two years’ experience on the Love County EMS fire brigade based at  WinStar Casino. 

Heath brought 15 years of experience as a Basic EMT. "Being able to take the class here made a lot of  difference. We had help and cooperation from our emergency room and Mercy Memorial in Ardmore to observe patients and practice advanced life support skills." 

It’s the advanced measures, such as opening airways through intubation, administering cardiac  medications, performing chest decompression, heart pacing, obstetrics, and physical assessments that set paramedics apart from Basic EMTs, said Dyer. 

"They learn these skills in an ER but paramedics then have the added pressure of performing them in  an uncontrolled environment, where they may be outdoors, in poor lighting, and a bull may be charging," she added. 

A second paramedic course at Mercy Health/Love County has been underway since spring. A Basic  EMT course that links to an instructor at Southern Oklahoma Technology Center in Ardmore starts on  August 24. It is accepting enrollment now, Gilliam said. 

Courses offered for the general public include Heartsaver CPR; Heartsaver AED – automated external defibrillator; Heartsaver First Aid; and Heartsaver Pediatric First Aid. 

Scholarships and discounts are available to Love County residents, Gilliam said. He may be contacted at  276-3347, ext. 259 or