Partnership EMS Program Graduates Honored in Ceremony


Published on June 2 2021 3:15 pm
Last Updated on June 2 2021 3:15 pm


This spring, Lake Land College partnered with Abbott EMS in Effingham and Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Systems in Mattoon to offer an “Earn While You Learn” Emergency Medical Services program. All nine of the students who began the program were honored in a graduation ceremony at Abbott EMS in Effingham.

“I think it was an incredible opportunity for the students,” Abbott Operations Manager Derek Burwell said. “Together we have provided something that just can’t have monetary value”

The program allowed students not only to earn an EMT-Basic Class certificate debt-free but also to have a position at Abbott EMS after completing the necessary course work and testing.

“When we started this, we knew this was going to be a challenging environment students were going to have to go into,” Vice President of Operations for Air Evac EMS, Inc. Joe Grygiel said. “For all nine students who started the class to make it through is a big deal.”

Prior to the EMS class partnership, Air Evac EMS, Inc. had never partnered with an outside community college to hold a training program. Upon contacting Lake Land College Emergency Services Program Coordinator Jasmine Ballard and Sarah Bush Lincoln EMS Coordinator Shirley Sherwood, Grygiel said both institutions were eager to take part in the program even with such a short notice.

“The support we have gotten has been second to none,” Grygiel said. “It is unbelievable what we’ve been able to accomplish here. We would love to look at the opportunity to do this again in the future, and if we do it again we will with no hesitation go to Lake Land. Everyone there has been wonderful.”

Grygiel also presented challenge coins to Caitlyn Tinker, Effingham, and Anneliesse Eads, Monticello. In a speech about her time in the class, Tinker said the question EMS Instructor for Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Systems Lucas Ruholl asked on the students’ first day was still stuck in her head.

“He asked us ‘why?’ Why are we here?” Tinker said. “There was a point in my life when I needed someone to show up for me. It was then that I chose to be that person for somebody else. As soon as I found out about this opportunity I jumped right on it, because I knew in my heart that this is where I was meant to be.”

Echoing this sentiment in his own speech, Ruholl commended the students for “making a terrific career” for themselves. He went on to express gratitude to the students for both learning from him and teaching him.

“I watched all of these students learn and saw how much they progressed in such a fast-paced class,” Ruholl said. “The students put a lot of dedication into it and really worked hard to get where they’re at today.”

Ruholl also presented the Lake Land College challenge coin to Zachery “Tyler” Lindsey, Effingham. Praising Lindsey’s professionalism and dedication, Ruholl said he also felt that Lindsey was “someone who the entire class could lean on when they needed somebody to keep them grounded.”

“Emergency service has always called my heart,” Lindsey said. “I didn’t always have the money to go to college, so when this opportunity came up I jumped at the chance.”

Both Tyler Lindsey and his sister Kirstin Lindsey, Effingham, graduated from the program. Kirstin Lindsey said she was initially planning to study nursing, but a conversation in high school turned her attention toward emergency service.

“When Tyler let me know about this opportunity, I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” Kirstin Lindsey said. “I’m excited to get out there and do the job and help make someone’s worst day better.”

As the graduates begin their careers, Ballard challenged them to maintain integrity, empathy and professionalism and to always strive to be not just a good, but a great provider for the community.

“As we celebrate National EMS Week, this year’s theme of Caring for Our Community could not be more fitting,” Ballard said. “May you remember that to be able to care for your communities you need to keep learning and growing in your profession.”

The EMS graduates include Eads, Kirstin Lindsey, Tyler Lindsey and Tinker as well as Tyler Ball, Mattoon; Codey Devore, Beecher City; Adrianna Knueppel, Toledo; Heather McKinney, Flora and Shianna Neira, Vero Beach, Florida.