Captions: Josh teaching trauma assessment in our Spring 2023 semester class, Cerro Coso EMT
students practicing CPR skills, Josh flying with air medical crew.
When emergencies happen, EMTs and paramedics are usually the first on the scene to administer aid, give emotional support, and transfer patients to the hospital. One of these essential first responders is Josh Pierce, who has worked in Emergency Medical Services since 2008. In his long career of service, he has educated hundreds of emergency response workers who are out in the field today, helping to save lives and improve health outcomes in emergencies. We are proud to have Josh Pierce be our instructor for the EMT class at Cerro Coso Tehachapi Campus. Let's get to know your EMT instructor, Josh Pierce.
Tell us about yourself, Josh.
I have a great sense of serving the community. When people are at their lowest moment in life, I strive to bring a smile to their face and let them know people care. I've worked in EMS for a long time, seeing the most devastating things that can happen to people, but I've also had joyful experiences, like delivering a baby. I've been lucky enough to lead disaster response teams, work with specialized military teams, and teach law enforcement classes. I have a wealth of experience and skills, and I've also learned from the mistakes I've made. Together these have made me a better person and better teacher.
What is your education and professional background?
I started working in Emergency Medical Services in 2008 for American Medical Response in North Los Angeles County. It was busy, with a wide variety of medical and trauma calls. I often walked into people's lives on their worst day. I quickly came to understand our responsibility was not only to the patient who was hurt, but taking care of the family who were suffering immense pain as well.
In 2009, I started teaching an EMS program at College of the Canyons to share my experiences, but also to teach students the value and impact of our actions. A phrase I really like to share is this: “You will never know what your impact is, or where your influence ends.”
The actions we take every day in EMS are often thankless. Because of the nature of EMS, it can be an emotionally-challenging work environment. I teach my students that we will have an impact on someone's life which we may never fully understand.
As I realized the great impact teaching can have on students, I continued my education. I have attended multiple instructor training classes to refine my teaching skills, even becoming an instructor for FEMA. After becoming a FEMA instructor, I leveled up and became a strike team leader for large natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, where we were deployed.
After leaving EMS work in the field, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to work as a Combat Skills Medic attached to the Naval Special Warfare training team. I learned a lot in that role which prepared me to go into hospital leadership. From 2015 to now, I have grown professionally - from managing programs and departments, to now overseeing clinical operations that treat over 200,000 different medical visits annually across two large counties in central California.
What do you enjoy most about your role? What inspires you to teach?
I truly enjoy helping others meet their educational goals and pursue amazing careers. As I teach classes, sharing the wisdom I've accumulated and experiences I've had, the students become better prepared to take care of those in our community, including our family and friends.
What drew you to teach at Cerro Coso?
I wanted to teach in our community because we deserve the same excellence in education as large cities. Many of the students who complete the Cerro Coso EMT program work locally and positively impact our community every day.
Describe your EMT course. What should students expect from this course?
Well, being an EMT is exciting! It can literally mean life or death for patients. So the course is challenging and requires dedication, but it is also interesting and sometimes fun. While the program is fast-paced, we work on projects in teams, much like you would do in the field. Everything you need to know to pass the tests will be taught, and included in the curriculum material. We work hard to set Cerro Coso students up for success.
What are some of the career prospects for students after taking this course?
Students can become EMTs working on an ambulance or in a hospital emergency department quickly after completing the certification process. Some students joined search and rescue teams with their education. Many students become firefighters and continue on to obtain their paramedic license. If flying excites you, flight medics are in high demand all around the country. Many of our students have used the EMT class as their foundation, advancing to nursing school and even medical school to become doctors.
There is no limit of where this class and certification can take you. Even for me, I started with just an EMT certification. Fifteen years later, I help manage a large healthcare system serving the most vulnerable in our communities.
What advice do you have for students considering taking this course?
If you're interested in EMS, just take the class. Everyone has a different reason to take the class and you might surprise yourself with how much you enjoy it. Students in the course often become friends and bond with one another. The class teaches not only how to save lives, but how to work together well and also function efficiently in stressful situations.
The EMT class at Cerro Coso Tehachapi will start on August 18th this Fall Semester. If you have questions about how you can enroll, please call our campus at (661) 823-4986 to speak with a counselor. Come visit our campus at 126 S Snyder Ave, Tehachapi, CA 93561, just off Tehachapi Boulevard. Look for Cerro Coso signs.