ATU Ozark Paramedic Students take part in SOAR

Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus paramedic students were offered the opportunity to participate in Mercy Life Line’s SOAR (Student Observation and Ride along) program on their helicopter last week.

“We are very grateful that Mercy Life Line offered this great opportunity to Arkansas Tech-Ozark paramedic students,” said Josh Freeman, Director of Paramedic/Emergency Medical Services at Arkansas Tech-Ozark. “A chance to fly with an air medical service is really great experience most paramedic students don’t get.”

Melissa Snider is one of the students who jumped at the opportunity.

“I have known that I eventually want to be a flight paramedic for a while so this opportunity is very important to me,” Snider said. “Working on an ambulance is a little different. Flight crews get more critical calls. You need a minimum of three years’ experience before you can be part of the helicopter crew. For me, the sooner the better but I know that ground experience is very important too.”

Snider said being in the helicopter only helped to confirm her want to do that kind of work.

“It is a very different experience than observing on the ground” she said. “This work requires a different set of skills. This was a great opportunity to see a different side of EMS. It helps us understand the need for helicopters in EMS and when to call them when we are working from an ambulance on the ground.”

Snider said she thinks Arkansas Tech-Ozark will continue to offer opportunities like these in the future and more.

“Arkansas Tech-Ozark EMS can look up to big things,” she said.

For more information about Arkansas Tech University-Ozark’s Paramedic / Emergency Medical Services visit or contact Student Services at (479) 667-2117.

Photo: (From left) Mercy Life Line Flight Paramedic Larry Summers, Mercy Life Line Pilot Phil Rogers, Mercy Life Line Flight Nurse Michele Reeves, ATU-Ozark paramedic student Melissa Snider and ATU-Ozark paramedic student Braeden Upton.