Meet the First Paramedic Scholarship Winner |

Meet the First Paramedic Scholarship Winner

David Farrell
PVFPD Board of Directors

Well over a year ago the Penn Valley Fire Protection District established a special scholarship program to cover the cost for a Penn Valley firefighter/EMT to complete the training to become a paramedic. A number of individuals and groups within the community contributed to the fund.

As a result firefighter/EMT Colin Gault was able to pursue his paramedic training, and recently completed all requirements.

Why was this program established?

The Penn Valley Fire Department is rather unique. We are the only fire agency in Western Nevada County that provides paramedic level emergency care. To meet this obligation our staff includes at least one firefighter/paramedic at each station. However, there is a significant demand throughout the State for firefighter/paramedics.

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Given the fact that we are a small fire department with limited funds, we are unable to offer competitive salaries and benefits, resulting in significant recruitment/retention issues with firefighter/paramedics.

The scholarship program was created to address these issues. An employee that utilizes the scholarship must sign an agreement to remain with Penn Valley Fire for five years. Moreover, the possibility of qualifying for the scholarship program has improved the retention of firefighter/EMTs who would like to pursue paramedic training, but cannot afford the cost.

Colin Gault grew up in Yuba City. After high school he attended Yuba College for two years and played on the college baseball team. He then transferred to Chico State where he earned a degree in public administration.

A family friend had planted the seed of a career in the fire service, and so after graduation Colin enrolled in the Butte College Fire Academy. After finishing all coursework students must complete a six month internship with a fire agency.

Penn Valley Fire has a longstanding intern program. Colin applied and was accepted into the program. After receiving his firefighter 1certification Colin was hired as a full time firefighter/EMT. That was three years ago.

When the scholarship program was implemented he was the first recipient.

So what did Colin have to do to become a paramedic? First was six months of classroom work, followed by a battery of tests. Then two months (160 hours) in a hospital clinical setting where he perfected all advanced life support (ALS) procedures.

This was followed by a field internship requirement of 480 hours supervised by a paramedic preceptor. Colin was able to serve his internship at Penn Valley Fire, under the supervision of Lt. John Winslow.

Once all of these requirements were met Colin had to pass a school final exam, and then a national final exam.

Colin completed all requirements last month and will be serving his first shift as a firefighter/paramedic in a few weeks.

Anyone interested in contributing to the paramedic scholarship fund can call the Penn Valley Fire office at 432-2630.

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