Thrill of critical thinking led Polk State alum to EMS career

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

Allison Skinner lives for the thrill of responding quickly and critically to the needs of her patients as a paramedic with Manatee County Emergency Medical Services.

And after only four years on the job, Skinner was recently promoted to deputy chief of the department.

“I credit my ability to do my job well to the education and training I received through Polk State’s EMS Program,” she said. “No other program prepares paramedics for the day-to-day duties and responsibilities of a paramedic like Polk State’s.”

Before rising through the ranks as a top-notch paramedic, Skinner worked as a property manager for more than a decade. She decided when she had her youngest daughter that it was time to go back to school to pursue something that she was passionate about.

She thought that was nursing.

“But I was waitlisted for Polk State’s Nursing Program and decided to take some relevant courses for fun,” Skinner explained.

One of those classes was an Emergency Medical Responder course.

“When we started talking about working in EMS, that was it – that’s all it took,” she added. “I realized I wasn’t supposed to be a nurse; I wanted the excitement of EMS.”

Many in the medical field say they are called to help people, but Skinner admitted it’s the thrill of the job that secured her decision to pursue a career as a paramedic.

“I wanted to be the first person on the scene, I wanted something different every day, and I wanted to make a positive difference in critical times of people’s lives,” Skinner said.

“I like the chaos,” she added, “and I enjoy critically thinking all the time – it keeps me on my toes.”

Skinner received a Polk State Associate in Science in EMS and her paramedic certification in 2013. She worked for AmeriCare Ambulance Services, a private company, for about a year while she searched for a job in public service.

In 2014, she joined Manatee County EMS as an entry-level medic.

In four years, she has risen to fourth in command under Chief Paul DiCicco and two assistant chiefs.

“I cannot say enough about Allison. She has worked in several roles within our organization and has excelled in each,” DiCicco said. “She brings not only knowledge, but also years of management and life experience that complements her ability to be an effective leader. I am thankful for her leadership, dedication, knowledge, and ability to motivate not only our employees, but also me.”

Skinner expressed thanks to Polk State’s EMS Program for preparing her for success in her new career.

“(Program Director) Don Guillette made something really easy to believe in,” she said of the program. “All of the instructors and those involved want to give back to the community by passing their passion for EMS on to the students, and it really shows in the quality of the paramedics who come out of the program.”

The passion and dedication Skinner saw in Polk State’s EMS instructors encouraged her to get back into the classroom, where she is now an adjunct instructor.

“Don doesn’t hire mediocre, so I was extra proud to be part of the program again, this time as an instructor,” she exclaimed. “My message to EMS students and aspiring paramedics is to make sure you have the education to back up the life-death decisions you will make in this career.”

“Go above and beyond,” she added, “and just keep learning.”