April 5, 2017

Learning to save lives: Trey Conley

Trey Conley has known exactly what he wanted to do from the time he was 16 years old, firefighting. While a sophomore at Hinckley-Big Rock, he was a cadet with the Hinckley Fire Protection District. After high school, he went to Western Illinois University and double majored in Fire Service Administration and Emergency Management, graduating in 2015. Now he is fitting in the last piece of the puzzle – he is at Kishwaukee College, studying to be a paramedic.

“Once I got into the Kish Paramedic program, it was exactly what I expected,” he said. “It's a ton of work and you have to be committed to it.” Trey knows a little bit about hard work and commitment. He currently works as a paid-on-call firefighter/EMT with Hinckley Fire Protection Department (FPD). He earned his EMT-Basic certificate from Waubonsee Community College in 2012 while still a university student. Working towards the paramedic certification will help Trey achieve his goal of being a firefighter/paramedic, like his father.

Becoming a paramedic is a step upward from the certifications and degrees he already holds.  “A paramedic gives advanced life support, working under a medical director, they can do things that only doctors can do in the normal clinical settings,” explained Deb Ernest, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) instructor at Kishwaukee College. “This brings the advanced level of care to the street, sometimes that means the difference of life or death.” 

The EMS program at Kishwaukee College has graduated 240 Paramedics and EMTs over the past five years. Unlike many programs, the Kish EMS program has students simultaneously work on clinicals, ride alongs, and classroom. This year, Trey is doing ride time with the DeKalb Fire Department and working clinicals in the emergency room at Valley West Hospital in Sandwich.

Trey explained the wide variety of experiences he is having by simultaneously working at the hospital and riding along at the DeKalb FD. “It is a very valuable experience to work with nurses and doctors, to be able to have real world encounters with patients in a clinical setting,” he said. “The amount of tools used by staff to obtain a diagnosis for a patient is very intriguing and seeing that at work will make me a better paramedic on the street.”

His time with the Fire Department adds another layer to his education. “My ride time has been an amazing experience. The DeKalb FD is a busy department and there is never a shortage of work to be done,” he explained. “They expect me to be part of the team which includes chores around the fire house, being part of training, and getting in on calls. I bring my turnout gear from Hinckley FPD and, as a certified Firefighter II, they expect me to be a part of every call regardless of whether or not it is an EMS call. The preceptors have been very good to me and let me take lead on calls and correct me when needed.”

As he nears completion of his program, Trey is glad he chose Kishwaukee College for his paramedic training. He said, “I feel that the program at Kish is a very flexible program in comparison to others. It’s one of the few that still have night classes three days per week, which is important if you have a day job. You also do ride time throughout the entire program which helps shorten the overall length of the program and helps tie what you learn in class to skills in the field.”

Added to Trey’s already busy schedule is one more task. “I am currently testing for departments in Northern Illinois to be a firefighter/paramedic,” he stated. “And once I obtain my paramedic, it will open many more departments for me to apply to!”  

For more information on the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Program at Kishwaukee College, contact Deb Ernest at 815-825-9513 or debra.ernest@kishwaukeecollege.edu.