AN ENHANCED EXPERIENCE - State grant enables EMS program to upgrade, expand at Richmond campus

February 24, 2022
AN ENHANCED EXPERIENCE - State grant enables EMS program to upgrade, expand at Richmond campus

Wharton County Junior College's Emergency Medical Services Program recently secured a nearly $500,000 grant which will be utilized for state-of-the-art training simulations and student scholarships. Pictured is EMS Program Director Gary Bonewald.

RICHMOND, TEXAS – A state grant will enable Wharton County Junior College’s Emergency Medical Services program to expand its services at the Richmond campus. The grant will fund state-of-the art learning simulation opportunities.

The EMS program recently secured nearly $500,000 from the Texas Reskilling and Upskilling for Education (TRUE) Institutional Capacity Grants, a state-sponsored program that stems from funds allocated to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. The college will cover 25 percent – some $125,000 – of the grant’s cost sharing/match requirements.

EMS Program Director Gary Bonewald said the funds will benefit classes at the Richmond campus.

Specifically, the funding will enable the program to install an ambulance simulator, purchase a roll cage, and buy eight training mannequins: three top-of-the-line versions and five basic models. The grant will also cover a simulation room, which uses multiple projectors to create stunning, life-like environments. The simulation room allows students to hone their skills in various locations, from night-time highways to shopping centers to just about any place where a paramedic might be called in an emergency. Sounds and even aromas can be added to add to the realism.

Grant funds will also be earmarked for student scholarships. Bonewald said $24,000 worth of scholarships have already been awarded.

The expansion will require the addition of a lab assistant as well as specialized training for the current faculty and staff. Bonewald is excited about how the upgrades will benefit the program, both in Richmond and system wide. The EMS program currently offers courses at Wharton, Richmond and Bay City.  

“The program itself will be elevated because of the investment made with this grant,” Bonewald said.

An open house is planned for this summer to showcase the new upgrades. The event will be for the public and the date will be announced at a later time.