Brandon Payne, 40, an Oak Ridge firefighter since 2007, received the tribute during a luncheon that continues a longstanding tradition of honoring graduating paramedic students.
TEAMHealth, a hospital staffing firm based in Knoxville, sponsored the luncheon for paramedic students who were in the spring semester cohort.
“It was challenging,” Payne said of the three-semester program to obtain certification as a paramedic. “There was a lot of information in a short amount of time.”
Payne said although the training “increased my knowledge and skills base,” there was also a financial reason for his decision to take the training. He said his pay will be boosted because of his new paramedic credentials.
Payne said the fire department was “very supportive” of his training; paying his tuition and allowing him time off to take twice-a-week classes at Roane State’s Knox County Center for Health Sciences.
Payne and his wife, Gretchen, are parents of a 10-year-old son, Jackson.
“You’re joining the ranks of the most elite health-care providers in the nation,” paramedic program director David Blevins told the nine class members.
“You’re taking the high level of knowledge you have to the people who need it the most.”
“You’re no longer my students,” paramedic instructor and clinical coordinator Tom Herron told class members. “You’re my peers, my equals. You are the new leaders of our profession.”
“You all need to be very proud of what you do,” said emergency room physician Dr. Todd Heffern, with TEAMHealth.
“You are on the front line to save peoples’ lives,” said Heffern, chairman of the advisory board for Roane State’s paramedic program.
“Be proud of what you do every day, and focus on the times when you truly make a difference.”
An enlarged photograph of Payne will be displayed for a year on the wall of the paramedic classroom before his portrait joins the collection of photos of other paramedic students who have garnered the recognition over the years.
To learn more about Roane State’s EMT and paramedic programs, visit roanestate.edu/ems or contact David Blevins at 865-354-3000, extension 4768 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eligible adults can now attend Roane State tuition-free with the new Reconnect grant. Learn more at roanestate.edu/reconnect.