Helping people in crisis is a calling for Patrick Furnas, 25. His desire to help people led him to the U.S. Army, where he served as a specialist in the 101st Airborne division from 2012-2016. When he came home to Avon, that drive to help people continued to grow, and he enrolled in the emergency medical services – paramedic program at Lorain County Community College.

“I love the adrenaline rush,” he said. “You never know what’s going to be the next call that comes in.”

The transition from military service to a career as a first responder is a natural progression for many veterans and LCCC now offers a fast-track program to help veterans move quickly through the paramedic program. This new track accelerates the paramedic program by allowing students to receive credit for their military experience through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA). Veterans may apply their VA educational benefits to the program.

“When you get out of the military, the hardest thing is figuring out what you’re going to do for a living,” said Jason Bender, 28, who lives in Elyria.  “The military to paramedic program takes all the guesswork out of the equation.”

From left to right: David Stowers, Patrick Furnas and Jason Bender

Bender served in the Army from 2008-2015, including two tours of Afghanistan, and achieved the rank of sergeant. He will earn an associate degree in the paramedic program in December 2017 and an associate degree in fire science in the spring of 2018. He is using his GI benefits to pay for the programs.

The transition to life as a student was seamless with the help of the Veterans Services office at LCCC, the men agreed.

“The veterans’ office has gone above and beyond to help me and all the veterans here. If it wasn’t for them – and especially the help of Michael Weston – I probably wouldn’t be here,” Furnas said.

David Stowers is currently serving the Navy Reserves as a corpsman – the Navy equivalent of a paramedic. The 24-year-old Elyria man said enrolling in the paramedic program at LCCC just made sense.

“I’ve always wanted to do trauma work, so I went into the military. I’m working in this program now so that I can do the same thing outside of the military,” Stowers said.

The military to paramedic program was designed with students like Stowers, Bender and Furnas in mind, said Dawn Sgro, director for the paramedic and fire science programs at LCCC.

“Those who served in the military often have completed much of the training necessary for the paramedic program. By giving them credit for what they already know, we can speed up their time on campus and help them get to their civilian careers faster,” Sgro said.

Students who complete the paramedic program can either begin work in the field or continue their education through various pathways at LCCC, including a paramedic to Registered Nurse program or Fire Science. Through LCCC’s University Partnership, students could go as far as earning a bachelor’s degree nursing (BSN) through Western Governor’s University or a bachelor’s degree in allied health from Youngstown State University.