Paramedic service celebrates 25 years

DOVER — Described as the “Godfather” of the state’s paramedic program, state Sen. Bruce Ennis, D-Smyrna, was saluted on Monday morning for his determination to create it 25 years ago.

On the cusp of beginning field training, Delaware Technical Community College paramedic program students attend a 25th anniversary celebration on Monday morning. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

On the cusp of beginning field training, Delaware Technical Community College paramedic program students attend a 25th anniversary celebration on Monday morning. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

First Responders, legislators and host Delaware Technical Community College officials acknowledged the senator with proclamation and kind words referencing all the lives saved by superbly trained paramedics.

“It means everything, it’s why we’re all here,” Delaware Tech Emergency Medical Technician Paramedic Department Chair Chris Hainsworth said when asked how important Sen. Ennis’ efforts were.

“He saw a need for it and he stuck with it.”

Describing the quest as “not easy,” Sen. Ennis recounted the nearly five years it took to bring State of Delaware officials together for passage of the Statewide Paramedics Act in 1990.

Delaware Technical Community College Emergency Medical Technician Department Chair Chris Hainsworth demonstrates use of the program’s high-fidelity patient simulator for state lawmakers and officials on Monday morning. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

Delaware Technical Community College Emergency Medical Technician Department Chair Chris Hainsworth demonstrates use of the program’s high-fidelity patient simulator for state lawmakers and officials on Monday morning. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

According to Delaware Tech president Dr. Mark Brainard, “Sometimes leadership requires you to take on very powerful forces and keep working for something.

“It wasn’t unusual for Senator Ennis to take on the governor, budget director and colleagues throughout the state who did not want to see legislation passed.”

Then Gov. Michael Castle signed the paramedics bill into law on Jan. 23, 1990, and Delaware Tech launched its program in 1999.

Now Delaware Tech boasts of a 16-year streak of a 100 percent pass rate for the national licensure test, and almost certain employment waiting upon graduation.

“I certainly would be remiss if I didn’t (mention) that Delaware Tech has done an excellent job stepping up to the plate and training paramedics throughout the state,” said Sen. Ennis, who received a commemorative coin given to graduates with the words “leadership, teamwork, professionalism.”

State Sen. Bruce Ennis, D-Smyrna, receives official General Assembly recognition from State Rep. John Mitchell, D-Elsmere, regarding his role in starting the statewide paramedic service 25 years ago. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

State Sen. Bruce Ennis, D-Smyrna, receives official General Assembly recognition from State Rep. John Mitchell, D-Elsmere, regarding his role in starting the statewide paramedic service 25 years ago. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

Just days away from beginning her field training nearly graduated Candace Ernst described her training as “Stressful, but worth it” as the ceremony concluded.

A few minutes late for the gathering due to a serious traffic accident near Camden, State Rep. Daniel Short, R-Seaford, said Delaware’s stance on paramedics was “unconscionable” before the program and “It gets messy out there and some lives are lost. This legislation in my opinion saves a lot of lives.”

Citing his time as a past first responder, State Rep. Bill Carson, D-Smyrna, said that “One of the greatest feelings a fire chief can have is seeing a paramedic pull up to the scene.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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