Houston Austin, of Sparta, was recently named the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director for Motlow State Community College. Prior to this new role, he served as the EMT/AEMT Coordinator for the college.
Austin has 21 years of experience in Fire/EMS/911 service, six of which have been in the education field. He is a State of Tennessee Commissioned Firefighter, Emergency Dispatcher Trainer, and Licensed Critical Care Paramedic. He began his career at Motlow as an adjunct skills instructor for EMT in McMinnville in 2017.
“After many years as a public safety employee and educator I have decided that it is time for me to seek a higher role in administration. My extensive administrative skills and expertise within the emergency medical field will allow me to lead this progressive EMS education program,” said Austin.
He added, “I immediately fell in love with what Motlow offers. We are not a program that just sits in the classroom. We try to create the most realistic experiences as possible while at the same time offering clinical spaces that range from Nashville to Spencer down to Winchester and everywhere in between in the service area.”
In addition to having completed the Tennessee Fire and Codes Academy in 2004, he received his EMT-IV Certificate in 2006 and his Paramedic Certificate in 2014 from Tennessee Tech. University. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science from Provident University.
Prior to Motlow, he served as a firefighter and EMT with the Cookeville Fire Department from 2004 to 2008. Austin also spent four years working as an assistant 911 Director and IT Manager for White County E911.
“I started as a part-time EMT in Sparta and went full time in 2012,” explained Austin. “While there, I completed my Critical Care Paramedic certification and continue to be on the roster on a part-time basis in case of emergency.”
Previous accomplishments include Young Citizen of the year for White County in 2005, Call of the Year Award for the Upper Cumberland in 2016, and White County Paramedic of the Year in 2020.
Motlow has offered EMT courses at the Moore County campus since 1980. The Emergency Medical Services Associate of Applied Science program was first implemented at Motlow in the fall of 2012. Two years later, the name was changed to Paramedic and technical certificates for EMT and Advanced EMT were created and the program began being offered at the McMinnville and Fayetteville campuses. Additionally, the first paramedic class started in Fayetteville with 10 students.
The EMS programs are now offered at all campus locations, except for the Moore County Campus. After students finish their initial EMT training, they can take the State’s Practical Certification Exam. EMT graduates traditionally proceed to earn their AEMT certificates. Many then advance to become Paramedics. Between 2014 and 2021, Motlow produced 748 EMT/AEMTs and 93 Paramedics.
New things are coming to the paramedic program, including a new paramedic to RN bridge course.
“We are always looking for ways to make the training more realistic,” Austin said. “We are going to be bringing in augmented reality equipment in the fall. This will enable the students to have real life experiences in a live environment.”
“Expansion of the program continues,” Austin explained, “fall of 2021 will add a night class in Smyrna as well as an AEMT class.”
Additionally, the program is affordable. Many students qualify for federal funding, such as Tennessee Promise or Reconnect, and other federal scholarships and grants, so the out-of-pocket costs are low or potentially even none at all. For more information in financial aid opportunities, go to https://www.mscc.edu/financial/how-to-pay-for-college.html.
Even students who have started their program at another college can have their credits transferred and get an associate degree at Motlow.
The EMS program is one that a student could actively have a career within a year of starting the program. Not all careers require a two or four-year degree. Motlow’s “Career in a Year” features programs that can train you in a year or less. Even in high-demand, high-wage fields, students can fast-track their way to career success. Motlow credentials can prepare students for the workforce.
Students who complete the program have many career options available to them. These include ambulance paramedics, firefighter and flight paramedics, emergency management, and emergency room technicians, and many more.
“We tell high school seniors to give us your summer and we can give you a career that can follow you your whole life,” said Austin.
The program is accredited by CoAEMSP and CAAHEP.
“Motlow’s EMS Program is dedicated to each student. We train the student just as if they are going to take care of our families. We are excited of the growth that we have experienced and hope to continue this trend,” he said.