Tasha Renard, Battalion Chief and Critical Care Paramedic with the Myrtle Point Fire Department, messaged us that she was going to be late to our photo shoot appointment. The reason? She received a text from a local waitress that one of their morning’s regular customers hadn’t shown up for a few days. The staff at the café were worried. That’s when Tasha jumped in her rig and headed over to do a Home Wellness Check on an older resident. He turned out to have been under the weather, nothing serious, but Tasha did a vitals check, visited for a bit, and then was back at the station.

“That’s a common occurrence in this job, and I love it. I love supporting our local people”, says Tasha. It’s been a long journey to get where she is now. As a younger person she didn’t think about her future, or even realize she had one. Dropping out of high school junior year and having a baby right before her 18th birthday limited her perspective. She later found support and encouragement from a SWOCC program at the Newmark Center and was able to complete her GED. After that, she landed a job doing clerical work. 

Growing up in Coquille, Tasha developed respect for the Fire Chief there. “I used to go down to the station and bug Dave Waddington regularly because I wanted to become a volunteer Firefighter.” It was after volunteering for a while that Waddington encouraged Tasha to do a ride-a-long in the back of the ambulance. “That was it. I was hooked. I traded in my office high heels for Danner boots. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner.”

Tasha went back to school. She worked for six years as a part-time Emergency Medical Technician, then quit her “day job” to go to school full-time and get her AAS in Paramedicine. Since 2018 she’s been full-time at Myrtle Point Fire and was promoted to Battalion Chief Jan. 1, 2023. Tasha credits the Fire Chief Willy Burris as playing a big role in her career advancement. “Willy has always been supportive of my career growth and training. He hired me, making me the first full-time female firefighter/paramedic in the county. He’s very progressive and an amazing mentor. He keeps us on the cutting edge of emergency medicine.”

“I was the first in my family to go to college and model that for my daughter who graduated from SWOCC’s nursing program. I’m very proud of her.”

In addition to her duties as Chief, Tasha also provides valuable training and mentoring to the next generation of paramedics currently enrolled in SWOCC’s EMS programs. 

Anthony Gantenbein, Assistant Professor of EMT/Paramedicine says, “Tasha Renard is one of the best paramedics, and people, that I’ve ever known. She truly embraces what it means to be a patient advocate and is committed to doing what is right for people whether they are in the back of her ambulance or not. Our program is lucky to have alumni like her out in the world helping to advance the profession. SWOCC EMS wouldn’t be what it is without her, and the profession would be worse off if Tasha and Myrtle Point Fire/EMS didn’t push our students to have pride and ownership in their education.”

Tasha received advanced ­training to become a Critical Care Paramedic and is internationally certified to be a flight paramedic. One challenge of living in an isolated area means critical care flights are not generally authorized. Add to that the fact that often the ability to take care of critically ill people in our medical ­facilities is limited. “We do a lot of ­critical care transfers by ground. That’s why I got the certification. With my other certifications I could work for a fancy flight company as a paramedic, but I really love working on an ambulance, responding to a scene, stabilizing the patient, and starting the treatment plan.”

To anyone considering a career path similar to Tasha’s she wants you to know the EMS field needs people!

“Without us the community is at great risk. There are going to be bad days but there are more ­amazing, rewarding days.” 


To learn more about all our EMS programs text or call 541-240-8227; email: SWOCCbound@socc.edu.


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