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Class During Covid: Paramedic Academy training at Madison College comes to a close for the semester

The Paramedic Academy students have been able to meet in-person for classes, where they learn advanced lifesaving skills.
Published: Dec. 24, 2020 at 4:00 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 24, 2020 at 7:33 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - As the first semester of her Paramedic Academy training at Madison College comes to a close, Madison Firefighter Tasha Kirch, a student in the class, said things are starting to click. With a smile, she said, “It’s finally coming together…yeah.”

Tasha Kirch
Tasha Kirch(Madison Fire Department)

The intensive Madison College Paramedic Academy coursework is stressful in a typical year, but this year, you can add in the extra stress of the pandemic. How is she doing mentally in such a challenging course, in a such a challenging year?

Kirch said, “I think so far, so good. They put us with a great group of people. We kind of support each other and help each other. The instructors here are really great making sure they check in with us, making sure we’re all mentally ok...and doing really well academically as well.”

The Paramedic Academy students have been able to meet in-person for classes, where they learn advanced lifesaving skills. But like so many other people, they’ve had to give up a lot of the things that help alleviate stress outside the classroom.

Kirch said, “For me, the most difficult part (this semester) is to make sure I’m keeping myself safe--to make sure I not only do my clinicals, and to come to MATC, but just to do my part as well at home….and not having those regular outlets that I have outside of all of this.”

Paramedic Academy instructor Chad Powell, who is also a Madison firefighter, agreed. Powell said, “There’s no question one of the best ways you can avoid a mental health crisis is by remaining social and interacting with people… and obviously we’re certainly not advising that people do that right now.”

Powell added, “For me personally, Thanksgiving was awful--not seeing your family, not being able to have those moments together is hard, and all of our students went through all of that too.”

Powell said Madison College has free counseling and mental health advice related to the pandemic available to all students. According to Powell, “We’re definitely more aware, we’re on the look-out (for mental health problems), we’re fortunate we have not had any issues this semester. I feel comfortable knowing we have the resources available, and they’re accessible at any time if students need them.”

Learning and watching for signs of mental distress is part of a firefighter’s daily life, so it’s also part of the Paramedic Academy class work. Powell said, " It’s really part of our curriculum to talk about those things. We talk about identifying when a co-worker is identifying signs of PTSD or depression, and also identifying it in yourself, so you can get the early access, which is proven to help extremely. We’re looking for it. We have plans in place if we see it. We’ll get students the resources they need if they need it. And just in general, we are there to help counsel them academically. Sometimes things also come up about their personal life and we have the resources there if we need them.”

Tasha Kirch with her daughter
Tasha Kirch with her daughter(Tasha Kirch)

When asked what she’s been doing to maintain a positive attitude and mental health during the intensive coursework, Tasha Kirch cited family and keeping an eye on the end goal. “Just kind of making sure that I speak up when I need help and communicate with people. My daughter’s my biggest cheerleader--she’s always trying to keep me positive. And stay focused on the goal at hand: Which is at the end of this, it’s just great rewards.”

For more information on the Madison College Paramedic Program, visit their website.

Madison College EMT Program

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