TSTC Emergency Medical Services program’s past revealed when time capsule opened

Joni Coons, right, a former TSTC Paramedic instructor and current leadership coach for TSTC Residence Life and Engagement, holds a 1996 textbook used by the TSTC Emergency Medical Services program after a time capsule was opened by former instructors, including Andy Weaver, left, provost of TSTC’s West Texas locations. (Photo Courtesy of TSTC)

ABILENE To commemorate the 50th anniversary of National EMS (Emergency Medical Services) Week from May 19 to 25, Texas State Technical College revisited some of its past.

With the 2024 EMS Week theme of “Honoring Our Past, Forging Our Future” in mind, current and former TSTC EMS instructors and students gathered Wednesday, May 22, to witness the opening of a time capsule that the program had sealed 28 years ago.

“What a way to honor EMS Week by opening our time capsule,” Joni Coons, a former TSTC Paramedic instructor and current leadership coach for TSTC Residence Life and Engagement, said. “I am excited for our current students to read the messages left by our first responder partners and to see what equipment was used in 1996.”

Also inside the capsule were a leather hip kit with all the necessary supplies for a first responder, some state certification patches, a stethoscope, a supply catalog, a T-shirt, some trade magazines and a textbook, a news release said.

Current Paramedic students began filling a second time capsule with items from their time in the program, including notes, pictures and an empty caffeine drink can with “I made it through EMT school with this” written on it.

Andy Weaver, provost of TSTC’s West Texas locations and the former program lead of the EMS program, thanked the past and current instructors for coming to the ceremony.

“It was such a blessing to work with this team,” he said.

Kenley Johnson, a current TSTC Paramedic student, signs a bucket that will be used as an Emergency Medical Services time capsule that will be opened in 2050. (Photo Courtesy of TSTC)

One of the people in attendance was C.L. Meeks, who helped start the EMS program in Sweetwater but left TSTC before the time capsule was sealed.

“It was great to see where things have changed while also seeming to stay the same,” he said. “I know when the next time capsule is opened in 25 years, there will be a lot of changes as well.”

Tristan Potter-Hargrove, a current Paramedic student, said it was fun to see what students used in 1996.

“This shows us where we came from as a program and where we are at now,” he said. “It shows how fast things can change in our field. It is also a good reminder that we have a future in this industry.”

According to onetonline.org, the need for paramedics in Texas was expected to grow 19% between 2020 and 2030.

In its Emergency Medical Services program, TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Paramedic, as well as certificates of completion in Emergency Medical Services – EMT, Emergency Medical Services – Advanced EMT AEMT, and Emergency Medical Services – Paramedic. The program is available at the Abilene, Brownwood and Harlingen campuses.

Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. Learn more at tstc.edu.