Three ambulance vehicles parked in a garage

In the air or on the ground, this instructor has your back

  •   2 min read
Virginia Workforce

There aren’t many high schoolers we trust behind the wheel of a car, but at 16 years old, Bram Massie was trusted with syringes and a pilot’s license.

Today, Massie is an instructor at Mountain Empire Community College where he teaches students the Emergency Medical Technician and paramedic curriculum. He’s been teaching for almost 20 years, and he got his start in the field back in high school.

“In high school, I learned to be a pilot, and for the first 15 years after school, I was a corporate pilot,” said Massie. “I was also an EMT and worked with the local rescue squad. I worked next to Mountain Empire Community College, and my boss was on the board, and that’s how I got connected and became an instructor.”

A community college graduate himself, Massie is part of the paramedic training program that’s a partnership between Mountain Empire, Southwest Virginia, Virginia Highlands and Wytheville community colleges. The program is five semesters long, and completers graduate with EMT and paramedic credentials and associate degrees in Emergency Medical Services Technology.

In just over five years, students leave with an associate degree. A lot of the course is online, prior to in-person classes, with limited group discussion. For the EMT degree, it’s two nights a week, but as students progress through the program, they experience day-long in-person trainings is running through scenarios and critical thinking tasks required for the certification.

When we spoke to Massie about the program and some of the challenges students face, it’s not the blood or the pressure of the job that’s the hardest to learn, it’s the face-to-face interaction.

“Over the years, the biggest challenge is looking people in the eye and talking to them,” he said. “The whole human factor, learning that is a challenge. Once people help others, it makes them feel better, and it makes them able to do their job better, too.”

Massie is a product of the program he teaches, making him a shining example of hard work paying off. And if future students need more encouragement, since Massie has been on board, the program has seen near 100% pass rates.

“I’m proud to be part of it, I’ve been there some of the longest of all the instructors. It’s a nice thing to be part of,” he said.

To learn from veteran’s in the field, visit FastForward to connect with your local college to see what training is available where you are.