GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — On Thursday evening, eight students graduated as paramedics from Life EMS Ambulance's education program. The 17-month course was rigorous, with many students juggling other full-time jobs and families of their own.
Among the group was 25-year-old Zack Jahnke. The achievement also honors his late father, Tom, who passed away from health conditions four years ago.
Jahnke witnessed his father's decline over the course of a few months due to heart conditions. Zack, along with other relatives, made critical calls to 9-1-1.
"It made me want to be more in public service and help those that are sick that needed the help," said Zack.
Zack's mother and sister attended the graduation ceremony, which marks the first person in the family to continue education past a high school diploma.
"Hands down, I think his patients in the future are so much more lucky to have him if they get sick," said Zack's sister Kayleigh. "He has done so much and strives to be so much since our dad died, because when my dad first got sick, he was there all the time watching him slowly decline, knowing there was nothing that he could do. So I think having that in the back of his head, he is going to give 150 percent on every single person that he has to go and try to save."
While graduation is a big milestone, Zack and his classmates still have to pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) cognitive certification test to become licensed.