SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - For this Mother's Day, one daughter has created a legacy in her mother's name that will help support EMS students at Savannah Technical College.
Lahoma Patton wants to help others in a way her mother was never helped. Flo Thurman, Patton's mother, never received a penny for her 40-year volunteer service career in emergency medical services. Thurman was the first woman chief of Swansboro (North Carolina) EMS/Rescue squad, creating a path for many to follow, including her daughter.
Patton created the Flo Thurman Leadership Scholarship as an endowed fund that will fund full support of tuition, fees, books, uniforms and materials for one EMS/Paramedicine student annually, which comes to about $6,000 per year to start. The scholarship will be available for Savannah Technical College students who do not qualify for state or federal financial aid like HOPE or Pell.
"My mom has touched so many people in her lifetime and never asked for anything in return," said Lahoma Patton. "She have given a lifetime to this incredible field, and we want her legacy to live on."
Patton is a Paramedicine/EMS instructor at Savannah Technical College and is one of six of Thurman's kids. In 2014 Patton was named Savannah Technical College's Rick Perkins Instructor of the Year. Patton says her mom "conned" her into working in emergency medical services.
"My mom needed someone to drive the ambulance, so she encouraged me to go to Coastal Community College (in Jacksonville, NC) for EMS training to go to calls with her. She saw something in me when I was a selfish and self-absorbed teen, which helped transform me into a caring and empathetic adult," said Patton.
Flo Thurman is now 75-years-old and lives with two of her daughters in North Carolina. She has served on numerous committees and boards on the state level for emergency medical services. Patton says first-responder services ran in their family. Duke Thurman, Flo's husband, was a police officer and volunteer firefighter, who started the hazmat team in their county as well. Flo's oldest daughter is a registered nurse, and another daughter worked as a dispatcher.
"My favorite calls were the ones I ran with my mom. Her guidance of how to be a compassionate, caring and confident medic. With her as my mentor, I wouldn't have done anything else," said Patton.
Patton has been teaching at Savannah Technical College since 2007. She has worked in emergency medical services for more than 25 years. Patton dedicates her entire career to her mom.
Patton hopes the scholarship will bring a new metaphorical grandchild to life for her mom. The endowed scholarship will be funded by Patton and her husband through their emergency medical services business, United EMS, which unites patients, providers and treatments through professional transportation.
"We are very proud to share you with the world through the scholarship, as you taught us to leave it better than when you came," said Patton.
The demand for EMS professionals is expected to grow steadily in the coming years with America's aging population. Their skills are becoming more critical as many hospitals and trauma centers offer specialized treatments requiring ambulance transport from community hospitals to specialty providers.
Savannah Technical College offers programs for Emergency Medical Services and Paramedicine Technology through its Health Sciences division. These courses are offered on campus and on post at the Fort Stewart Army Education Center, the EMS faculty members are practitioners as well as teachers.
You can learn more about EMS/Paramedicine training at Savannah Technical College by visiting their website here.