Brandon Vittitow, a senior at Robert E. Lee High School, has spent the past four months preparing for his future after high school. To help reach his goal of becoming a firefighter, Brandon spent four nights each week in an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course through the Emergency Medical Services Program offered by Tyler Junior College (TJC). He recently completed the course and will take his National Registry EMT exam Jan. 6 to earn EMT certification.
Once Brandon decided he wanted to be a firefighter, he began mapping out a plan for how to make it happen. The first part of the plan included completing EMT course, which he learned was available as a Dual Credit course allowing him to complete it while still in high school.
“I decided I wanted to be a firefighter after my grandfather passed away,” Brandon said. “Through his passing, I really began feeling God calling me into service and I knew then that I wanted to serve as a firefighter.”
He attended the EMT class at TJC every Monday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. where he learned through collaborative lectures, training exercises, clinicals and hands-on experience, or what he calls “full-interaction” with patients. This included spending extensive time in ambulances and emergency rooms interacting with patients with various medical concerns. Not surprisingly, Brandon, 18, was the youngest in the class.
“We are required to log seven, 12-hour shifts in an ambulance and one, 12-hour shift in the emergency room,” Brandon said. “In these areas we also had to log seven trauma cases and five medical cases. It was a strange feeling to go into class hoping for a trauma case to happen to help get those logs.”
With his EMT course completed, Brandon can continue to receive his Emergency Medical Services certification if he chooses. As of now, he is focused on volunteering with the Flint-Gresham Fire Department and applying to fire academies in College Station and at TJC.
“The EMT dual credit class is an incredible option for students interested in emergency career fields because it provides a framework that a lot of emergency services are starting to require in their program admissions,” Sarah Jane Walker, Career and Technology Center counselor, said. “Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, the Tyler ISD Career and Technology Center will also offer EMT course on campus. Students who complete the course at the CTC would have the full school year to complete it.”
After Brandon completed the EMT course, he said it felt appropriate to personally thank four Tyler ISD teachers who helped him achieve his goal: Mrs. Walker, Dr. Courtney Walls, Shana Steele and Amanda Richardson. So, he sent them all hand-written thank you letters detailing how they impacted his life.
“I thought it was important to thank these teachers because there are always things and frustrations to bring people down,” Brandon said. “I wanted to let them know that their dedication and personal interest in helping me reach my goal was appreciated.”
“When we got these letters, we were just amazed,” Mrs. Walker said. “Some of us had never received a thank you note from students and it just meant so much to everyone.”