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New EMS Scholarship honors a mothers service

SAVANNAH – Flo Thurman never received a penny for her 40-year volunteer service career in emergency medical services. As the first woman chief of Swansboro EMS/Rescue squad, Thurman blazed a path for many to follow, including her daughter Lahoma Patton.

This year for Mother’s Day, Patton has created a legacy in her mom’s honor that will support EMS students at Savannah Technical College. The Flo Thurman Leadership Scholarship was created as an endowed fund that will fund full support of tuition, fees, books, uniforms and materials for one EMS/Paramedicine student annually, a value of up to $6,000 per year to start.  This scholarship will be available for STC students who do not qualify for state or federal financial aid like HOPE or Pell.

“My mom has touched so many people in her lifetime and never asked for anything in return,” Patton said. “She have given a lifetime to this incredible field, and we want her legacy to live on.”

Patton is one of six of Thurman’s children and a Paramedicine/EMS instructor at Savannah Tech. She was named the College’s 2014 Rick Perkins Instructor of the Year. She says her mom “conned” her into working in emergency medical services.

“My mom needed someone to drive the ambulance, so she encouraged me to go to Coastal Community College (Jacksonville, NC) for EMS training to go calls with her,” Patton said. “She saw something in me when I was a selfish and self-absorbed teen, which helped transform me into a caring and empathic adult.”

Thurman, now 75, lives with two of her daughters in North Carolina. She served on countless committees and boards on the state level for emergency medical services. First-responder service ran in their family, as her husband, Duke Thurman, was a police officer and volunteer firefighter, who started the hazmat team in their county as well. Her oldest daughter is a registered nurse, and another daughter worked as a dispatcher.

“My favorite calls were the ones I ran with my mom. Her guidance of how to be a compassionate, caring and confident medic. With her as my mentor, I wouldn’t have done anything else,” Patton said.

Patton has been teaching at Savannah Tech since 2007 and has worked in emergency medical services for more than 25 years. She dedicates her entire career to her mom. She says this scholarship brings a new metaphorical grandchild to life for her mom. The endowed scholarship will be funded by Michael and Lahoma Patton through their emergency medical services business, United EMS, which unites patients, providers and treatments through professional transportation.

This scholarship lives and breathes her commitment and philosophies, says Patton. “We are proud to share you with the world through the scholarship, as you taught us to leave it better than when you came.”

 With America’s aging population, the demand for EMS professionals is expected to grow steadily in the coming years. And, their skills are becoming more critical as many area hospitals and trauma centers offer specialized treatments requiring ambulance transport from community hospitals to specialty providers. Savannah Tech offers programs for Emergency Medical Services and Paramedicine Technology through its Health Sciences division. Offered at the Savannah campus and on post at the Fort Stewart Army Education Center, the EMS faculty members are practitioners as well as teachers. Like Patton, they’ve been there, done that and want to help students learn.

To learn more about EMS/Paramedicine training at Savannah Technical College, visit