Searcy resident recognized for EMT teaching excellence

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published September 8, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated September 6, 2013 at 10:10 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Nathan Waggoner, an instructor at Arkansas State University-Searcy, was recently recognized for his teaching excellence by being named Instructor of the Year by the Arkansas Emergency Medical Technicians Association at its awards ceremony in Hot Springs.

SEARCY — Whether working in an ambulance, volunteering with the Mount Vernon Volunteer Fire Department or teaching in a classroom, Nathan Waggoner has spent the past 17 years helping others.

He was recently recognized for his teaching excellence by being named Instructor of the Year by the Arkansas Emergency Medical Technicians Association at its awards ceremony in Hot Springs.

“I’ve been teaching at ASU-Searcy for eight years,” Waggoner said.

He uses his real-life experiences as an emergency medical technician as learning tools to teach his students each week at Arkansas State University-Searcy, a technical campus of ASU-Beebe.

Before teaching at ASU-Searcy, Waggoner spent 17 years as an emergency medical technician.

He said an EMT helps drive the ambulance, along with assisting in some procedures that paramedics perform on patients.

Waggoner said he was inspired to become a part of the emergency-medical-services world when he worked with the Volunteer Fire Department, and lack of training for the volunteers caused someone to die.

“I knew we could do more,” Waggoner said.

He said he has a history with the Mount Vernon Volunteer Fire Department, which his father started.

“I’m the volunteer fire chief there,” Waggoner said.

Along with teaching and volunteering with the Fire Department, Waggoner is a paramedic for NorthStar EMS in Searcy.

“I work 24 hours on and 48 hours off [as a paramedic],” he said.

When he has days off, that’s when Waggoner takes the skills he learns in the ambulance to the classroom.

“I love everything about being a paramedic,” Waggoner said. “You never know what’s coming next.”

Waggoner said he loves seeing his students succeed inside and outside the classroom.

Patt Cope, director of the Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic program at ASU-Searcy, said Waggoner is deserving of the Instructor of the Year award.

“His students respect his experience [in the field],” Cope said. “He can bring to life the things he’s trying to teach them.”

Waggoner’s experience off campus gives him a way to connect with his students.

“He’s got a story for every topic he needs to teach, and he understands the depth of knowledge you have to have to be a paramedic,” Cope said.

Waggoner served as interim director of the program in 2012 when the previous director died of cancer.

“He took on a tremendous task when [the previous director] died,” Cope said. “Running a program of this magnitude takes a tremendous amount of paperwork.”

In addition to running the program, Waggoner taught 17 credit hours each semester, she said.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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