When Diedra Blankenship headed to Fort Worth for the annual Texas EMS Conference in November, she thought she was just going to give a presentation and attend various conference sessions as she always does.
So it came as a total surprise to her when she was called up to receive the EMS Educator of the Year Award at the annual awards luncheon that was part of the conference.
“I did not even know I had been nominated,” Blankenship said.
The EMS Educator of the Year Award is given by the Texas Department of State Health Services and honors a state-certified EMS instructor or course coordinator who advances EMS education in Texas through innovation, collaboration and a commitment to students.
Blankenship has been a full-time EMS instructor since 2008. She ran the EMS program at Hill College for nine years before joining the Temple College faculty as a professor in 2017.
Blankenship was nominated for the statewide award by Hillary Love, a high school EMS instructor she met through the Texas Association of EMS Educators. Blankenship helped found that organization in 2017.
“There is a national organization for EMS educators, but we wanted one for Texas because it is so big,” Blankenship said. The organization sponsors an EMS Educators Summit each spring that attracts hundreds of participants.
Blankenship also is in her third term as a member of the EMS Education Subcommittee, which is part of the Governor’s EMS and Trauma Advisory Council. This subcommittee looks at laws related to EMS certification in Texas and makes recommendations for changes.
“I try to be involved,” Blankenship said. “I try to provide value for our industry across the state.”
A native of Austin, Blankenship earned her EMT and AEMT certification through Austin Community College and completed her paramedic training at McLennan Community College in Waco. She worked as a field paramedic for the San Marcos/Hays County EMS and also as an Air Evac paramedic before deciding to pursue teaching full-time. She said she likes the rewarding feeling that comes with teaching.
“I’ve had the same struggles the students have had and I made it,” Blankenship said. “I think I can relate to the students and remind them that we’ve all been there.”
While Blankenship continues to teach others, she also is furthering her own education. In fall 2020, she plans to begin work on a Ph.D. in Health Sciences from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.