Tag Archives: volunteer fire department

An Inside Look at PUC’s Emergency Services Programs

The emergency services programs at PUC prepare students to be highly skilled professionals in the emergency and fire responder fields. If you’re considering a career in the fire service, law enforcement, disaster relief, or emergency medical services, a degree in emergency services from PUC may be for you. 

You might have some questions about the EMS programs at PUC. Well, we have answers!

Jeff Joiner has been working at PUC as an associate professor of nursing & emergency services for five years now and he was gracious enough to answer a few of our burning questions. 

You’ve now taught at PUC for a few years. What’s been your favorite thing about teaching here? 

I think my favorite thing as a teacher is seeing what my graduates are doing after graduation. Whether it’s working as an EMT in a big city or small rural area, getting that first paid position as a firefighter or heading back to school to advance their career as a paramedic or a graduate degree.

The EMS program at PUC has been around for over 10 years now. What exciting things are in store for the program in the future?

We’ve got lots of ideas on new courses to add to our program to keep it up to date with current standards of Emergency Management education (and make our graduates better prepared). We’ve recently added a new course in Search & Rescue and are taking advantage of the new Geographic Information Systems (GIS) course being offered (now a contextual requirement). We have proposed a new degree track that would allow students to complete their paramedic training within four years and receive a B.S. in Emergency Management. We have just had a new course approved for next year that will allow students to complete an internship in Emergency Management with various, county, state and federal agencies. We have new courses in Business Continuity, Technology in Emergency Management (think drones), and a Wilderness (Medicine) First Responder (WFR) courses in the planning stages. All of these courses will keep PUC Emergency Services graduates on the cutting edge.


What distinguishes PUC’s program from other EMS type programs, such as Union College’s international rescue and relief program?

While there are definitely similarities with Union’s IRR program, our program at PUC is more focused on domestic Emergency Management positions/careers. Both programs have an EMT component that leads to National Registry and identical courses in Technical Rope and Swiftwater Rescue. IRR has an international component that we do not. We have courses in Emergency Vehicle Operations (EVOC) that lead to a Department of Transportation (DOT) certificate (how to drive an ambulance); a course in how to manage an EMS agency. Approximately half of our students in Emergency Services are members of the Angwin Volunteer Fire Department and are able to gain valuable experience as a firefighter and EMT while they are still in school. This experience is invaluable when applying for positions upon graduation. This is a very unique opportunity for Emergency Management students.


Why should someone consider studying EMS?

We currently offer two degrees in Emergency Services – an A.S in Emergency Services which is ideal for the student who is looking for a position as an EMT, Emergency Dispatcher, or EMS manager/supervisor. The B.S. in Emergency Management opens up the world of Emergency Management which includes careers in law enforcement, firefighting, Emergency or Disaster Management, international relief, social services, public health, or medicine. Positions as Emergency Managers can be found at the city, county, state, or federal government level; with domestic or international relief agencies (Red Cross, ADRA, USAID, Samaritan’s Purse, Team Rubicon, World Vision, etc.). In the future, up to ninety percent of EM positions will be in private industry leading the business continuity programs. We now offer a pre-med option for students that wish to pursue a career in medicine. We have had several complete dual degrees in Emergency Services and Nursing.

Can anyone take an EMS class, or are they only for EMS majors? 

There are several Emergency Services classes that are open to all students – EMT I & II, and Technical Rescue I & II. Some even meet general education requirements!

What are graduates of PUC’s EMS program doing? 

Currently, we have graduates of our B.S. in Emergency Management working as Emergency Managers for the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, the San Bernardino County Health Department, and the city of Beacon Hill. One of our graduates is the Emergency Manager for Facebook. We have some working in Law Enforcement, some as firefighters for CalFire. One is currently pursuing her paramedic certification. Another graduate is completing her MPH in Disaster Management (and doing her last internship at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. One of our graduates is now a Disaster Specialist with FEMA in Washington D.C. Another is a youth crisis worker in L.A.

Out of all your classes, which is your favorite to teach and why?

My favorite is probably the EMT I & II courses. These are the foundation courses in our 2 & 4-year degrees. I’m introducing these students to the field of emergency care. From these first two classes, they will use these skills for the rest of their professional career, be it as an EMT, Paramedic, Registered Nurse, or physician the ER. These students are probably the only students on campus who must be prepared to take a National Registry exam after only two-quarters of college. Many are freshmen. And yet, after only two quarters they are able to go out and get a paying job saving people’s lives. Some of our students do this each year before the end of their first year of college!

If you’re interested in learning more about our emergency services programs visit puc.edu/academics. If you have questions, our team of admissions counselors will be happy to answer them! Call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email admissions@puc.edu to get connected with a counselor and start learning about all the options available to you. 


Choose Your Own PUC Adventure: Be a Volunteer Firefighter

Growing up a fire captain’s daughter, I spent my fair share of time in a fire station, so the infamous air raid siren at PUC that blasts everyday at noon wasn’t anything new or startling to me when starting school. Unlike my fellow classmates, who covered their ears and quickly looked around worried, I didn’t even notice it. I had never lived less than five miles from a fire station, so the siren was a strange comfort to me being away from home for the first time.

So imagine my reaction when later that year, the alarm went off while I was sitting in my English class, unfazed. Wrong! As one of my classmates jumped up from his desk, letting his chair crash behind him as he bolted out the door and down the hall, I was shocked. It wasn’t until that moment I realized a large percentage of the Angwin Volunteer Fire Department was made up of students. The thought never crossed my mind, since I was pretty sure you needed to be an adult to run into a burning building to save a life—and there was the epiphany: this was college, we were adults!

Having the ability to volunteer at the Angwin fire station is something pretty unique about PUC. This week I sat down with J.R. Rogers, Director of Recruitment at PUC, who has volunteered with the AVFD for over 11 years. He serves as Captain in command of the Truck Company and also Officer in Charge of Fleet and Logistics. I asked him a few questions about being a member of the fire department and how it helped change his life and his time at PUC.

Q: Why should someone join the fire department?

A: It’s a great way to serve the community around you and to expand your skill base. You get a lot of hands on training both in the fire and medical world that you get to use to help others. These skills will serve you for the rest of your life. It’s a pretty powerful thing to be able to help those in quite possibly some of the worst situations and time of need.

Angwin Fire collage 1

Q: What skills will I learn if I join?

A: The Angwin Fire is an all hazard and all risk department, which means we respond to everything. We teach you how to work with and mitigate situations involving fire, hazardous materials, vehicle accidents, plane crashes, water emergencies, and medical emergencies. Many of these skills are life skills you can put into use when things like this happen in your personal life as well.

Q: Is it hard to volunteer and go to school?

A: Not at all. In fact, over half the department is PUC students. You are a volunteer, which means we ask that you come whenever possible, but understand if you are unable to respond. You’re given a pager and when it goes off you respond to the station. Most teachers at PUC are fine with you leaving class for a call. At the beginning of each quarter, I would go up to each of my teachers at the first class and let them know I was a member of the fire department. I asked if it was okay if I left for calls and that I wouldn’t leave during quizzes, presentations, or tests. I think I only had one teacher that preferred I didn’t.

Q: How do I join the fire department?

A: If you go to www.angwinfire.com/join, you will find the application and instructions on other documents needed and you can bring them to the firehouse in person (you’re guaranteed to find us there the 1st and 3rd Monday nights from 7-10 pm) or mail it to the PO Box listed on the application letter.

Q: How many hours per week does volunteering take up?

A: It varies. We have a three hour drill every other Monday and trainings as assigned by your company officer, in addition to the calls you respond to. A typical medical aid, which is the majority of what we respond to, takes about an hour. The fire academy we put you through is every Wednesday, with some Mondays and Sundays, for six months.

Q: Should I join the department even if I’m not interested in a degree in Emergency Services?

A: Volunteering with the fire department is something you want to be passionate about doing. If it’s something you don’t believe in, it’s a lot of work and personal risk and being a firefighter isn’t a title that you get, it’s one you earn. The medical side is something we do often and has varying degrees of certification but everyone is trained in at least first aid.

Q: What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned as a volunteer?

A: I have really learned so much I can’t pick just one. Leadership, accountability, resourcefulness, and being a team player are just a few things I’ve learned that have played into my everyday life. Other useful skills like fire knowledge, medical skills, and hazarding identification that also find their way into my days. You really see the world with new eyes.

Angwin Fire collage 2

Q: Do you remember your first call?

A: Definitely. It was a wildland fire in Pope Valley on Barnett Road the day after I graduated. I was the only one from my class that made it to the call. We worked for about six hours cutting hand line alongside a bulldozer to contain the fire. Just as we were getting the fire encircled, it created its own weather system and it began to hail and then rain, which ultimately helped us. There are a lot more stories along with that single incident but I learned a lot on my first call.

Q: Will I be able to drive the fire truck?

A: If you’re on the department long enough and you put forth the effort and time to learn your job as a firefighter, and then you train to become an operator – yes, you can eventually drive a fire engine or truck. You have to learn your first job and do it well to be able to take on a second.

As you may have heard in the news recently, there were several large fires in the Napa Valley and surrounding areas. Thankfully, CalFire and many other departments from around the state were able to contain and extinguish them, and we’re incredibly proud to say our very own Angwin Volunteer Fire Department was part of those efforts!