Stories of Excellence–Luke Swing
Luke Swing stands out amongst his peers. While the majority of his high school classmates are finishing their senior year, Swing has graduated and is a certified EMT and firefighter. On Monday, April 9, he began his full-time position with the Fairview Fire Department in Asheville. He credits his training through Mitchell with making his rapid employment possible.
Swing is by no means new to the field of public safety. He has served at the Harmony Fire Dept as a junior firefighter–a program in Iredell County that allows people under 18 years of age who are interested in fire service to help (in a limited manner) with calls. He has previously taken continuing education classes towards his certification at Mitchell. While attending South Iredell High School, he heard about the EMT program starting at Iredell-Statesville School's Career Academy and Technical School (CATS). He joined the inaugural EMT class offered by Mitchell at CATS in August 2017. In the program, he found a hands-on curriculum that was vastly different from his previous courses. Swing embraced the challenge. With the help of instructor Leigh Dison, Swing gained skills and training he immediately began applying to his position with the fire service. "Mrs. Dison would help any way possible, whether it was staying late or coming in on a weekend or just making you think about things in a different way," he noted. "Before I went into the class, I could not even take a blood pressure!" The experience in class was invaluable, and the practical tests that were a part of the preparation for state examination were meaningful and memorable.
Swing passed his state exam and earned his EMT certification. He also graduated high school in January 2018. Within a month and a half, Swing received an offer for full-time employment at Fairview Fire Department. He noted his training at Mitchell was critical to his rapid employment. "If it were not for the EMT certification and fire classes, I would never have gotten a full-time job at a fire department," he said, "I never thought I'd find a job this quick. I thought maybe part-time EMS. Never full-time fire department within a month and a half of graduating. I was shocked." Even though firefighters receive their own training and certification, a large percentage of calls many departments receive are medical. Cross-training is essential to better serve the public. "Personnel is generally so limited," Swing noted, "employees need to have lots of training."
Even with his new position, Swing still will still serve as a squadsman with North Iredell Rescue a few days a week. He plans to work at Fairview as long as he can, and he will continue his studies with EMT Intermediate certification and potentially Paramedic. He recommends Mitchell's short-term training programs for anyone seeking a position in public safety. "It is getting harder and harder to find interested, trained people," he said. "Not everyone has time to come take the classes, but I think the classes at Mitchell are helping that a lot." Mitchell training has certainly helped Swing get ahead of his peers. "While they're in the classroom on a Monday, I'll be on a firetruck."
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