When Justin Florence was starting the successful emergency medical technician program at Palestine High School in 2017, he wanted to provide his students with hands-on experience, so he asked for an ambulance.
Several local businesses responded by donating more than $10,000 in services and equipment to fix up the 2010 vehicle. Florence is already using the Wildcat Ambulance to train students in the EMT program, and said once licensing is complete, it will serve as a training vehicle and a licensed first responding organization at school events.
While many districts in Texas offer the EMT program, Palestine Independent School District is likely the only one with a functioning ambulance.
“The kids are super-excited about the ambulance,” Florence said. “They know they’re a part of something special.”
One paramedic, one EMT, and two EMT students will staff the ambulance at football games and other special events, similar to a volunteer fire department responder organization.
The rehabilitated vehicle is equipped with supplies students can train with in real emergencies, such as a Phillips cardiac monitor defibrillator, a Stryker Power Pro stretcher, oxygen, first round cardiac medications, IV supplies, advanced airway supplies, suction capabilities, and other emergency supplies.
The program currently serves 25 students, and 40 have already completed their certificates. Two are working at Palestine Regional Medical Center, and six have earned national and state licenses.
Matt Davis, PRMC’s Director of Emergency Medical Services, first responded to the need for a new ambulance by donating the vehicle for the cost of its tax, title, and license. Davis is a PHS graduate.
Killion’s Collisions, owned by Jonathan and Davi Ingram, PHS 2001, donated body work repairs.
Robert Moser, owner of Ram AutoSound & Security, designed and installed a detailed wrap for the ambulance at half the usual cost — a donation of $3,000 — while Accident Distributing donated the 3M reflective material in the wrap.
John Wilbanks, PHS 2000, owner of Palestine Tire Center, donated new wheels and tires.
Dennis Lively, PHS 1975, general manager of Nalcom Wireless Communications, donated a digital Kenwood radio communication system to allow communication with the hospital, local fire departments, and law enforcement agencies, if needed.
Scoff Delk, owner of Billie Whitley & Sons Automotive, and Scott Walker, former EMS Program Coordinator at Trinity Valley Community College, also lent their service and expertise.
Florence credits the PISD School Board and Administration for their “vision and desire” to provide students with a “world class education” and begin working in a career.
“What I and the district want to do is help the kids who want to begin a career,” Florence said. “It gives them a chance to go to work in Palestine full-time.”