Five EMS Students Heading for Australia

Trip made possible by La Trobe University EMS Conference Scholarship

Five students in the Emergency Medical Services Paramedic program at Inver Hills Community College won the La Trobe University EMS Conference Scholarship and are traveling to Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, for an international EMS conference Jan. 9–10, 2015. The students are:

  • Laura Christiansen, EMT
  • Brittney Hutchinson, EMT
  • Victoria Neunsinger, EMT
  • George O’Gara, EMT
  • Simone Ramler, EMT
IHCC EMS La Trobe University Scholarship
(left to right) Laura Christiansen, Dave Page, Mike Bowen, Victoria Neunsinger, Brittney Hutchinson, George O’Gara, Simone Ramler
La Trobe University
La Trobe University
“Each student will receive fifteen hundred dollars in Australian currency for travel, complimentary lodging with host families, entrance into the conference and ride-alongs with Ambulance Service Victoria,” said Dave Page, MS, NREMT-P, a paramedic instructor in the EMS program. “Bendigo is one hour north of Melbourne and tentative travel dates are set for January first through eleventh next year. These students followed a competitive application process. Their selection is proof of their emerging leadership, proven volunteerism, integrity, self-reflection skills and innovation.”
Dave Page also congratulated Mike Bowen, AS, NREMT-P, IHCC class of 2009 and director of testing at Fisdap, noting that Bowen was invited to present his research at the conference. “Mike joins a very distinguished cast of invited presenters that I believe include Dr. Vic Convertino, senior research physiologist for the U.S. Army and formerly with NASA, as well as our local cardiac arrest research guru and inventor, Dr. Keith Lurie. I hope they will all be able to attend.”
Bendigo, Australia
Bendigo, Australia
Page thanked organizers Susan Furness and Nathan Ross, La Trobe EMS faculty, who inspired IHCC students to build stronger careers and cross-oceanic communities.
“Susan and Nathan visited Inver Hills during the Fisdap Research Summit in 2013 and were featured speakers at the Oz Conference last year on the IHCC campus,” said Page, who also thanked Dr. Peter O’Meara, department chair at La Trobe University, for supporting the conference scholarship.
“This scholarship helps provide an affordable gateway to international scholarly enrichment that would not be possible otherwise, especially for our low-income participants,” Page said. “The U.S.–Australia academic partnership can only continue to grow in the future.”
IHCC EMS La Trobe University Scholarship
“Our scholarship winners and invited speakers work for Allina Health EMS, Mendota Heights Fire, North Ambulance, Saint Paul Fire, Fisdap, and Advanced Circulatory systems, all home-grown Minnesota centers of excellence. Australia and the U.S. as well as local EMS systems have much to learn from each other’s innovations, vigorous intellectual environments, and emerging scholars. The conference is open to all who would like to attend.” — Dave Page

EMS student profiles…

Victoria Neunsinger, EMT

IHCC EMS La Trobe University Scholarship
Victoria Neunsinger, EMT
  • Age: 23
  • High school: Elk River
  • Hometown: Elk River, Minn.
  • Current city or town of residence: Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
  • Program area: EMS: Traditional Track (Paramedic)
  • Degree: A.S.
  • Graduating from Inver: May 2015
  • Previous college experience and/or degree(s): “I attended Anoka-Ramsey Community College and Santa Reparata [International School of Art in Florence, Italy]. I graduated with an associate in arts degree.”
  • Why did you choose EMS?
    “I was actually going to continue my education and go back to Italy. I expressed interest in the medical field and in becoming a paramedic to a friend, and he convinced me to take an EMT class. Since it couldn’t hurt, I decided to take my friend’s advice, and after the second week of class, I couldn’t imagine any other decision.”
    What’s it like being an EMS student?
    “Exhausting, but extremely rewarding. However, it completely ruins watching any emergency hospital TV shows or movies that involve prehospital medicine.”
  • Favorite aspect of paramedicine:
    “When I am able to help a patient on one of the worst days of their life and educate them on their disease, or what is happening to them.”
  • Transfer plans:
    “I would like to transfer to a college that offers a bachelor’s degree in paramedicine.”
  • Pastimes and hobbies:
    “I enjoy snowboarding, playing hockey and traveling.”
    About the La Trobe University EMS Conference Scholarship:
    I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend the conference. I am excited that I am able to receive a scholarship that is one of the first of its kind, and continue my education abroad.”
    What do you most want to see or experience in Australia?
    Other than the EMS aspect, I am really excited to meet my host family. I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf, so maybe I’ll get a chance to try there.”

Laura Christiansen, EMT

IHCC EMS La Trobe University Scholarship
Laura Christiansen, EMT
  • Age: 24
  • High school: Home-schooled
  • Hometown: Hager City, Wis.
  • Current city or town of residence: Minnetonka, Minn.
  • Program area: EMS: Traditional Track (Paramedic)
  • Degree: A.S.
  • Graduating from Inver: May 2015
  • Previous college experience and/or degree(s): Youth With A Mission (YWAM)
  • Why did you choose EMS?
    “The need is great for medical personnel in developing nations.”
    What’s it like being an EMS student?
    “It’s like being in a blender; you lose track of time and space. Concentrating on the goal is the key to keeping sane in the ‘blender’ of EMS student life.”
  • Favorite aspect of paramedicine
    Constant change.”
  • Career plans:
    “Flight medic. I eventually plan on doing medical missions in Africa.”
  • Pastimes and hobbies:
    “Hiking, horseback riding, wake surfing, snowboarding, traveling and camping.”
  • About the La Trobe University EMS Conference Scholarship:
    I am excited to experience EMS in the Land Down Under.”
    What do you most want to see or experience in Australia?
    I am looking forward to going on a few ride-alongs with Australian medics.” (Laura has traveled extensively in Australia, visiting Perth, Sydney, Canberra, the Sunshine Coast, Rainbow Beach and more.)

George O’Gara, EMT

IHCC EMS La Trobe University Scholarship
George O’Gara, EMT
  • Age: 22
  • High school: Cretin-Derham Hall
  • Hometown: Mendota Heights, Minn.
  • Current city or town of residence: Mendota Heights, Minn.
  • Program area: EMS: Traditional Track (Paramedic)
  • Degree: A.S.
  • Graduating from Inver: May 2015
  • Previous college experience and/or degree(s): One year at Drake University studying biochemistry, and cell and molecular biology
  • Why did you choose EMS?
    “I always wanted to help people under the worst circumstances.”
    What’s it like being an EMS student?
    “Extremely difficult, tiring and all-around taxing, but in the end, the look on the patient’s face when it’s all over makes it all worth it.”
  • Favorite aspect of paramedicine
    “Being able to help people during the worst moments in their lives.”
  • Transfer plans:
  • “I am currently looking at working toward a degree in sports medicine and kinesiology through Inver Hills and Concordia.”
  • Career plans:
    “Short-term, I am looking at being a fire/medic. Long-term, who knows? Possible P.A., M.D., remote medic—only time will tell.”
  • Pastimes and hobbies:
    “Before medic school, I enjoyed hunting and fishing, both of which I look forward to getting back to after graduation. I still enjoy cooking, music and just going for a drive to relax.”
  • About the La Trobe University EMS Conference Scholarship:
    “I look forward to learning how paramedics work truly a world away.”
  • What do you most want to see or experience in Australia?
    Other than seeing how they work and meeting my host family, I would really like to go scuba diving in the ocean.”

Brittney Hutchinson, EMT

IHCC EMS La Trobe University Scholarship
Brittney Hutchinson, EMT
  • Age: 25
  • High school: Central
  • Hometown: St. Paul, Minn.
  • Current city or town of residence: St. Paul, Minn.
  • Program area: EMS: Traditional Track (Paramedic)
  • Degree: A.S.
  • Graduating from Inver: May 2015
  • Previous college experience and/or degree(s): Studied health care at Century College; earned EMT certificate at Saint Paul Fire EMS Academy in 2012
  • Why did you choose EMS?
    “I was one of the first students to receive Basic Life Support training at the Saint Paul Fire EMS Academy.”
    What’s it like being an EMS student?
    “Most challenging. I am a kinesthetic, hands-on learner—if I don’t touch it, it’s not real. I enjoy learning the skills and I love meeting new people.”
  • Favorite aspect of paramedicine:
    “Seeing people before they get to the hospital. I love emergency situations.” (Brittney currently works as an EMT at Mercy Hospital Emergency, and Saint Paul Fire Station 51.)
  • Transfer plans:
    “I am thinking about going to Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas. I would like to be an RN paramedic with a specialty in pediatrics or oncology.”
  • Pastimes and hobbies:
    Loves spending time with her children, Franceé and Naaziah
    About the La Trobe University EMS Conference Scholarship:
    I cried at work when I found out. Two nurses looked over my scholarship essay. One, Vanessa Soldo, is a graduate of Inver’s Paramedic program.”
    What do you most want to see or experience in Australia?
    I want to visit my cousin and his wife and child. They live in Melbourne.”

Simone Ramler, EMT

IHCC EMS La Trobe University Scholarship
Simone Ramler, EMT
  • Age: 20
  • High school: Home-schooled
  • Hometown: St. Cloud, Minn.
  • Current city or town of residence: Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
  • Program area: EMS: Traditional Track (Paramedic)
  • Degree: A.S.
  • Graduating from Inver: May 2015
  • Previous college experience and/or degree(s): St. Cloud State University (two years of generals) St. Cloud Technical & Community College (EMT course), and University of Northwestern–St. Paul (generals)
  • Why did you choose EMS?
    “Before I decided to switch my major to paramedicine, I was already planning on pursuing a career in health care. I guess I’ve always known that I want to do something in the medical field. I think that it is very rewarding to be able to be one of the first people provide care to people during their times of need, and I love being able to make a difference for them.”
  • What’s it like being an EMS student?
    “Being an EMS student is a very fun, challenging experience. It can be very stressful at times, and you don’t have much free time between your school schedule, clinical shifts, ride-alongs and work. You learn to get used to not sleeping much, and it can be hard not seeing your family or friends very often. I really love the camaraderie between the other students in the program, though; everyone understands what you’re going through and they are willing to help you out.”
  • Favorite aspect of paramedicine:
    “I like the fact that in order to work successfully as a paramedic, you have to have a broad range of knowledge about all sorts of body systems and health care in general, because you never know what you might be dealing with in your next patient. Also, I love being able to be one of the first people to respond to a scene. I think that it is an honor to be trusted by a complete stranger to step in and help them with their emergency.”
  • Career plans:
    “After I graduate the Pparamedic program, I’m thinking about going back to school eventually for nursing. Another thing I’ve considered is going into law enforcement, but I’m not quite sure what my plan is yet.”
  • Pastimes and hobbies:
    I enjoy spending time in the outdoors, and one of my favorite things to do is spend time at my family’s cabin up north. I also play several different instruments.”
  • About the La Trobe University EMS Conference Scholarship:
    I am so excited that I have the opportunity to have an experience like this. To be able to travel around the world to attend a conference about something you’re passionate about is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it definitely would not be possible for me without this scholarship. I can’t wait to see what I will learn and experience from this adventure.”
  • What do you most want to see or experience in Australia?
    One of the things that I’m looking forward to the most is being able to see how the EMS systems in Australia are set up. I’m really excited about being able to do ride-alongs with their ambulance services.”

Dave Page to Laura, Brittney, Victoria, George and Simone: “Your work makes our entire community grow. I feel a tremendous pride for what you have accomplished in your relatively short time at Inver Hills and in EMS in general. Us EMS ‘old people’ often complain about the lack of legacy planning, and lack of young talent. It is people like you who will carry forward the torch. Please continue to be the humble leaders you are. Many of your classmates will not be able to make the trip, but are active, engaged leaders who need to hear what you have learned. I think it’s really great that you are living the mission, vision and values of Inver Hills. Thank you! And pack a pillow—it’s a long flight to Oz.”
IHCC EMS La Trobe University Scholarship

For more information about the Emergency Medical Services Paramedic program at Inver Hills, contact:

David Page MS, NREMT-P
Paramedic Instructor
651-705-6505

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