Community college steps up emergency program to take on the COVID-19 pandemic

Broadcast on WLOS November 4, 2020

WOODFIN, N.C. (WLOS) — At A-B Tech in Woodfin, it’s common to see ambulances and other service vehicles training outside on the track.

“If we added up all the hours of all the people that come through the average year, it’s a little over 300 full-time students,” said Clint Gorman, dean of the emergency services division.

The center there specializes in training for police officers, firefighters, paramedics and more.

“We also do continuing education training so those that are already working in the field, we provide their ongoing training that’s also mandated by the state,” added Gorman.

It's a big role, and an important one at that, especially during these past few months.

“Our agencies that we serve are still desperate for responders and the need even goes up during something like the COVID issue,” Gorman said.

When life came to a screeching halt back in March, the team here stepped up in a big way.

“The Buncombe County emergency management asked us if we could help with maybe supplying classes to people that was considered as Buncombe County employees non-essential and taking and utilizing them for roles that would put them in an essential role,” said Anthony Green, chair of the EMS program.

That included learning how to drive an ambulance, getting certified in first aid and CPR and following the critical steps to properly put on and take off PPE.

“What I found interesting is when I talked to them, some people may be coming to us that their full-time job was in the tax office or parks and rec or just anywhere where you can imagine in the Buncombe County system,” said Green.

Green and the other instructors helped make sure those people learned the basics so they could remain essential through all of this.

“Here, our goal is to educate. Anybody that would like to do what we do, we’re here for that,” added Green.

For all that hard work -- we salute you. All of you.

“I don’t perceive us as heroes at all. I perceive us as doing what we’re supposed to do. We are the community college and it’s up to us and our division. We’re all about serving the agencies that we’re working for. And whatever way we can do that, is what we’re going to do,” said Gorman.

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