Campus & Community

PBSC’s all-female paramedic team wins EMS competition

(L-R) Madison Waite, Brooke Stark and Dema Ammar, PBSC’s first all-female paramedic competition team, won first place in the “First There, First Care” student competition.

The first all-female paramedic team from Palm Beach State College is continuing the College’s longtime streak of bringing home the metal from first-responder competitions.

The team of Dema Ammar, Brooke Stark and Madison Waite finished first in the student division at the 24th Annual “First There, First Care” Conference, held June 14-15 at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino & Hotel in Hollywood. They outscored the other six student teams and placed ninth in overall scoring, earning them an invitation to perform as the warm-up team for the finals on the second day. Later the women were interviewed by NBC Channel 6 in Miami and appeared on the evening news.

COVID-19 had put a halt to these popular competitions for emergency medical services personnel. This eagerly anticipated Advanced Life Support competition at the conference attracted fire rescue departments and college paramedic teams from all over Florida. In competition, these EMS providers assess and treat patients—either actors or patient simulators—in challenging medical scenarios. Their drive to compete is not merely for bragging rights, but to keep their skills razor-sharp for when it counts.

PBSC’s EMS Club has placed every year since it began competing in 2004, and nearly all of its wins have been first place in the student division.

While the club revolves around education and training, it is designed for competition. Because it is only open to currently enrolled paramedic students, a competition-ready team must be built from the ground up every year.

“The club’s reputation and successes are well known within the EMS community, not only locally, but statewide,” said Lt. Matt Keeler, director of Palm Beach State’s EMS programs. “I challenge anyone to find a more dedicated team than ours this year, and they had the added disadvantage of dealing with COVID-19. Since competition after competition was cancelled due to COVID, it was hard to stay motivated, but they did.”

Akin to a professional sports team or the Olympics, only the best and brightest in the EMS Club are allowed to compete. The level of commitment and dedication is beyond what is expected of the average student. Training lasts about two hours a night after class. It generally starts slow, about once every two weeks, increasing to once a week and eventually twice a week as competition season approaches.

Two other students, Freddie Ramirez and Matthew Amonica, assisted the winning team throughout the year in preparation for eventual competition.

Next up is Palm Beach State College’s own “Panther Challenge” on July 30. It is the College’s 7th year hosting a statewide EMS competition and all are invited to attend.

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