Victims of the Bottom Line: Closing The BYU-Idaho Paramedic Program

Story Description:

This story details the closing of the long running paramedic program here at Brigham Young University-Idaho from the perspective of one of the members from the final class to make it through as well as a student who wanted to do the same. It details the sudden decision by the university to shut down the program and how it has had an impact on those who made the program a major part of their lives. Featured in the video are two students who have been directly impacted by the closure and their thoughts and opinions concerning it.

Related links: 

http://www.eastidahonews.com/2016/02/brigham-young-university-idaho-drops-paramedic-program/

http://www.localnews8.com/news/madison-co-fire-losing-valuable-asset-with-byui-program-closure/37914798

Behind the scenes: 

I was fortunate enough to know Hunter from before this semester and was there when the announcement of the closing of the paramedic first hit the students involved. I think the most interesting thing that wasn’t covered in the video was the impact that the closure has had on the staff in addition to the students. While the students counted on the program to help them cement their future careers, the closing of the program means that several university staff members will either be laid off or relocated to other positions. It also bares mentioning that the closure of the program will have a direct, negative impact on the local fire station and hospitals as they used the paramedic students for much needed help (See linked stories.) It was interesting to see just how far reaching the decision to close an entire program can have on the students, teachers and community at large.

Word-For-Word Script:

VO: As a member of the last graduating class from BYU Idaho’s paramedic program, which will be shutting its doors at the end of this semester, Hunter Christensen considers himself very fortunate to have made it through but still feels frustrations towards the university.

HUNTER CHRISTENSEN: WHEN I HEARD THAT THEY WERE SHUTTING IT DOWN, ITS LIKE, THAT IS REALLY FRUSTRATING THAT YOU WOULD TAKE SOMETHING THAT IS SO HELPFUL TO NOT ONLY THE COMMUNITY AROUND THE WORLD BUT ALSO SPECIFICALLY HERE IN TOWN, THAT WAS VERY DISAPPOINTING TO HEAR.

VO: The university has done little to nothing in the way of helping students that have been impacted by the closure leaving many paramedic hopefuls to fend for themselves.

HUNTER CHRISTENSEN: WHEN THE PARAMEDIC PROGRAM WAS ANNOUNCE TO BE CLOSING THEY HAD JUST STARTED A NEW SEMESTER OF EMT STUDENTS. IN FACT, THERE WERE QUITE A FEW EMT STUDENTS WHO DECIDED THAT THEY WEREN’T GOING TO DO THE CLASS BECAUSE THERE WAS NO REASON FOR THEM TO SPEND THE 7 CREDITS AND 15 HOURS A WEEK IN AN EMT CLASS IF THEY WEREN’T ABLE TO MOVE ON TO BECOME PARAMEDICS ANYWAY.

VO: This has left Hunter and many of his classmates feeling conflicted

HUNTER CHRISTENSEN: WE DON’T WANT TO GO BACK ON THE SCHOOL THAT HAS GIVEN US SO MUCH ALREADY BUT TO HEAR THAT THEY’RE SHUTTING DOWN WHAT WAS ESSENTIALLLY OUR LIFE FOR THE PAST 3 SEMESTERS WE WERE ALL PRETTY DISAPPOINTED AND PRETTY UPSET ABOUT IT.

VO: Jordan Forrest is a first year BYU-Idaho student that was hoping to join the paramedic program but now feels he has been forced to go with plan B, a feeling he is sure he shares with many others.

JORDAN FORREST: I KNOW ITS NOT JUST ME, I CAN ALMOST GUARANTEE THERE’S A BUNCH OF OTHER PEOPLE THAT WOULD HAVE WANTED TO DO THE PROGRAM. NOW I’M GOING TO HAVE TO FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO DO.

VO: The closure of the paramedic program is being seen by Hunter and many others as a warning sign for other, less popular majors

HUNTER CHRISTENSEN: THERE’S A LOT OF OTHER PROGRAMS ON CAMPUS THAT ARE BEING REMOVED. I KNOW THAT THE VET-TEC PROGRAM, THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT I THINK GOT REMOVED A LITTLE WHILE AGO, BUT THAT’S ANOTHER EXAMPLE WHERE IT’S A LOT OF MONEY AND VERY FEW STUDENTS.

VO: And while one could argue that these students could just go elsewhere, BYU-Idaho offers an environment that can’t be found anywhere else, a major draw for students like Jordan

JORDAN FORREST:  BECAUSE WITH ANOTHER PARAMEDIC PROGRAM, ITS NOT HERE AND I WANT TO BE HERE AT A CHURCH SCHOOL TAKING IT INSTEAD OF SOMEWHERE ELSE WHERE ITS NOT A CHURCH SCHOOL. SO NOW I’M GOING TO HAVE TO PICK SOMETHING THAT’S KIND OF STILL ALONG THE LINES OF HELPING PEOPLE BUT ITS GOING TO BE TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

VO: The school has been relatively silent on the matter, citing the paramedic program’s high cost and low turnout as the motivating factor behind the closure. But with reasoning like that, it is hard not to see the paramedic program and others like it as victims of the bottom line.

HUNTER CHRISTENSEN:  YOU’RE BASICALLY SAYING TO US THAT ALL THAT STUFF THAT YOU DID IS NOT WORTH OUR TIME OR MONEY. LET’S GET RID OF IT. AND I KNOW THAT’S NOT HOW THEY’RE PROBABLY SEEING IT BUT WHEN YOU ARE FACED WITH THAT, THAT’S HOW IT FEELS.

VO: Reporting from Brigham Young University-Idaho, I’m Derek Prince for Scroll TV News.

Extra Credit Interactive Multimedia Elements:

Opinion Poll: 

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Do you think that it was right for BYU-Idaho to shut down the paramedic program?

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Yes. It saves money.
Yes. It makes room for other majors.
No. They should have kept it.
No. But they should remove a different program to justify it.
Indifferent.

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