Georgia Piedmont Technical College is always touting its graduates gaining invaluable skills through hands-on quality education. But in the case of 43-year-old paramedicine student Austin Mayes of Covington, having those skills may have saved someone’s life. In late July, police responded to a double shooting at a gas station in DeKalb County; Mayes was on an ambulance ride-along (a required part of his curriculum) when they got the call.

Shooting scene in DeKalb
July 26, 2022-(picture from Shooting crime scene in South DeKalb.

Mayes says the victim they tended to had been shot three times. When he and the rest of the medical team got the victim in the ambulance and started performing assessments, they heard no sounds of breathing on the victim’s left side. Mayes suggested to his supervisor that they perform something called a chest decompression on the victim.

Austin Mayes
GPTC paramedicine student Austin Mayes. Listen here as he describes the procedure.

Immediately following the procedure -even with a collapsed lung- the shooting victim’s blood oxygen level was at 99 percent. His blood pressure and pulse were strong and the crew was able to him to Grady Hospital for admission.

Paramedicine and EMT instructor Zina Gresham calls this incident noteworthy because a chest decompression is “a very difficult skill which many paramedics cannot identify the need for nor truly have the knowledge to perform.”

Mayes credits his years of experience in the field as an advanced Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and as a paramedicine student at Georgia Piedmont Technical College with providing him the knowledge to know the procedure was needed. As part of his GPTC program, Mayes and his classmates visited a cadaver lab in Clayton County where he could practice techniques on human tissue as opposed to mannikins. Mayes says that helped boost his confidence. Austin Mayes will finish his paramedicine degree in fall of 2022 and is already getting more than his share of employment offers.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how many fire departments, ambulance companies, and other medical organizations have offered me jobs,” Mayes said. “I just keep telling them ‘no,’ I need to finish school.”

Thank you, Austin Mayes. You make GPTC proud and we’re sure you’ll go out and pay it forward as an outstanding paramedic!