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Classroom Named for Paramedic Student
October 24, 2018

The dedication and courage of the late Doug Johnston, a paramedic student at Walters State, remained constant even while he was battling cancer. On Monday, the college dedicated a room on the college’s Public Safety Campus in his honor. His parents, Buddy and Vicki Johnston, have also established a scholarship to help students who do not receive financial aid. 
“Douglas Allen Johnston was truly a remarkable individual and alumnus. In naming this room in his honor, we pay tribute to his courage, character and perseverance,” said Dr. Tony Miksa, president of Walters State. 
Johnston passed away in 2008, while he was in the last semester of the college’s paramedic program. 
“Doug Johnston studied hard and was flawless during clinical rotations while in the Walters State paramedic program,” said Tim Strange, dean of public safety and a paramedic instructor while Johnston was a student.
“His cancer was in remission when he started the program After the first semester, he started having problems and got the word that his cancer was back.  He was in so much pain, but he refused to take pain medicine because he did not want to be impaired in class. He was determined to become a paramedic,” Strange also said. 
Emergency medicine was a lifelong passion.
“Doug became interested in emergency medicine was he was in high school. He volunteered at Warriors Path Fire Department. Then, he became an EMT,” recalled his mother, Vicki Johnston.

“He had a great sense of humor and always stayed busy.”
Johnston said becoming a paramedic remained her son’s top priority, even after the return of his cancer.  In addition to school and medical appointments, he also continued to work full-time as an EMT at the Washington County/Johnson City EMS service. 

As Strange realized that Johnston was not going to make it to graduation, he worked with state officials to award Johnston a certificate and an honorary paramedic license. 

“He was excited to see it; then he shook his head and said ‘I did not earn it.’ I reminded him of how well he had done in class and the years of experience he had as an EMT. I felt that he had indeed earned it,” Strange said. 
During each Paramedic graduation, the Division of Public Safety now presents the Douglas Allen Johnston Award of Excellence to a student who demonstrates exemplary performance in academics, laboratory skills and in clinical settings.
His parents have also established the Doug Johnston Memorial Scholarship to help other students achieve their dreams of becoming paramedics. Seven students have received the scholarship. All seven recipients have graduated and passed the state licensure exam for paramedics.
The room named is room 137. It is used by paramedic instructors and students. 
CUTLINE: Dr. Tony Miksa, president of Walters State, and Vicki and Buddy Johnston unveiled a plaque honoring the late Douglas Allen Johnston. A room in the college’s Public Safety Campus has been named in his honor.