"Dare to reach your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light."
For anyone who doesn’t know me, I am Nicole Erb. You might know me personally, professionally, or through my family or friends. If you’ve heard of me at all, you probably already know that I’ve been an EMT for six years and have been trying to get into paramedic school for most of that time so I can finally accomplish my dream.
After many years of hard work, hope, and resilience, I have finally been accepted into IU Health Lifeline’s paramedic program beginning in August 2022! My acceptance into this unique program and my graduation will allow me to obtain my associate's degree and open many new opportunities, including continued dedication to serving others. There is no higher honor than to be given the responsibility to care for another human being, and to know that even one life has breathed easier because of me is to have succeeded.
After a ton of consideration and analyzing all of my finances, I decided to make this GoFundMe in hopes that you will believe in me as much as I believe in me and help me pay for my tuition, a total amount of $7500 excluding books, uniforms, etc. With books and uniforms, I've estimated the total cost to be around $8000. The goal is to have tuition and other necessary expenses paid for before the first day of class (August-4 months away!). Even a single dollar is one dollar for the rest of my life. You allow me to further my education by graciously donating, so I know the decisions I make as a paramedic responsible for another human life will be the correct decisions. By graciously donating, you’re allowing me to attend school so that I can better help you, your family, and your friends. If ever given the opportunity to use my new skillset to save someone’s life, it will be because of your donation to my education, which taught me these skills. Help me to help you. Thank you for believing in me.
I’ve tried multiple times to get into a paramedic program throughout the years. So much has gotten in the way, such as my health, technicalities, and a severe understaffing problem. Persevering through the obstacles that once stood in my path was essential to my growth and resilience. It truly feels like I've finally made it to the top of the mountain that I've fallen from so many times and can finally see the breathtaking view.
In 2016, I enrolled in an EMT class. I didn’t make much money, but the desire and passion I had for becoming a paramedic and hero to my children were stronger than the obstacles I faced. On the first day of class, I took my instructor aside and begged him to give me a chance to pay with a payment plan. I had already planned that I would donate plasma twice a week, earning around $55 per week, and pay everything I earned towards my class. They accepted, and I never missed an appointment to donate plasma. I paid off the class before the last day and passed at the top of my class. I immediately began searching everywhere within 60 miles for a position that would allow me to use the skills I learned.
Just a few days after receiving my first job offer, hurricane Matthew was just days away from making landfall. I reached out to the Red Cross, and within 48 hours, I was on a plane flying into the storm. I spent just over a week traveling from area to area, providing care, medications, and essentials to victims who could no longer live in their homes due to flooding or damage. I'd go days without sleep because there weren't enough volunteers or medical staff, but it was the most fulfilling week of my entire life.
Once I arrived back home, I started my first EMT job and soaked up every bit of new knowledge I could. My partner and I would spend hours each day talking about medicine and hypothetical situations. To this day, becoming an EMT is my biggest accomplishment.
In 2020, covid hit. Covid affected everything, and the world shut down aside from essential workers. Protocols would change every day to keep up with the newest information about the pandemic; we developed severe staffing issues that caused many ambulances to shut down. In the summer heat, we wore gowns, respirators, eyeglasses, and gloves on each run to prevent any exposure to covid. Covid was so new and terrifying at times, but each day we showed up and took care of the sick and even ones that were just scared. Too often, we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest accomplishment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
Amid covid, on June 06th 2020, I visited my local urgent care for what I thought was a kidney infection or kidney stones. They referred me to the emergency room for further verification of kidney stones, with anticipation of needing to have them removed. I reluctantly drove to a local ER (after I googled which one was closest to my house). I received some pain medication and had a CT scan of my abdomen to verify kidney stones. I was alone when the doctor told me that I had several kidney stones, but they had also found a huge mass unrelated to the kidney stones. That mass was colon cancer, and I was only 28 years old. My youngest child out of four wasn’t even one yet. No one in my family had ever survived cancer (I have a strong family history of various cancers), and I was the youngest ever to have it (in my family).
Around that time, my employer was having a paramedic class that I intended to enroll in, without costing me, but my life took a turn. I found myself fighting for my life instead of a spot in the paramedic class. I was terrified that I had missed my only chance of becoming a paramedic, which was very tough to handle. I had so many plans for my future and so many more ways I’d wanted to help my patients, but the roles had reversed, and I had become the patient. My life became consumed with covid and cancer.
Three months, three biopsies, one colonoscopy, one surgery, and a post-surgical infection later, I returned to work as a full-time EMT in Indianapolis with a better perspective on life and death. A year later, I was in remission. I could relate to my patients in many more ways than my coworkers because of my experience. Unfortunately, most of the cancer patients I cared for were terminal. I was a survivor and had a second chance. It hit me: I could still become everything I wanted to be.
While waiting for another paramedic class, I reached out to a friend to see if he had his paramedic books. Fortunately, he did, and he offered to bring them to me. I took these books home and began studying and preparing myself for the next paramedic class.
When the next class was announced via email, I submitted my application within 3 minutes. I enrolled in anatomy and physiology, and with very strict discipline, I passed at the top of my class. I took my FISDAP entrance exam and passed. I obtained my letters of recommendation (5 to be exact) and began working on my entrance essay. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to say in my essay, but it was much harder than I thought. I could have written a 10-page essay on why I want to be a paramedic, and you’ll never find the words ‘money’ or ‘higher pay’ anywhere. I had to write about the most important reasons, but I couldn’t narrow any of them down to just 500 words. I had plenty of time, though; I began working on the essay several months in advance to make sure I got it right!
During a visit to the education department for some brief training, I saw the chief in charge of education and thought I’d confirm when the essays were due. When I asked, he paused for a moment before telling me that the class had been canceled due to short staffing. I asked if it had been rescheduled for a later date, but he said it was ‘rescheduled indefinitely or for the foreseeable future.’ I was devastated. I had to make a tough decision at that point. I had been trying for so long to get into a paramedic class through the same place, and it just wasn’t working out. I could either continue to wait until ‘the foreseeable future’ had arrived and another class was scheduled, or I could search for a different class entirely, but I’d have to pay out of pocket for it. The decision wasn’t easy. Paramedic school is expensive, and I wasn’t sure how to afford it (I’m still not sure). I could wait for my employer to have another paramedic class that wouldn’t cost (that might fall through again), but after experiencing the paralyzing thought of being ‘too late’ to accomplish something I’ve completely dedicated myself to, I knew I had to find a way to pay for a different class. If not, I’d be stuck where I’m at in life and potentially miss out on the opportunity to become a paramedic before death.
I began my search for a paramedic class affiliated with a different organization. I wouldn’t let anything get in the way of my goals with this second chance. That’s when I found IU Health Lifeline’s excellent paramedic program, and with a lot of hard work and prayer, I was accepted!!!! But because it’s not a college or university (IU Health Lifeline is NOT considered either one), I’m unable to find many grants or scholarships to apply to. I applied for three scholarships, with a total award amount of approximately $1,000. I’m not sure when I will know if I was chosen or not. The tuition is $7,500 for the class, not including other necessities like uniforms, books, etc. I set a goal of $8000, but I am grateful for even the smallest amount! I can’t stress enough that even a single dollar makes a difference! I am incredibly thankful and appreciative of all assistance given to me. I am grateful for all the encouragement I've received over the years. I'm grateful for the wonderful letters of recommendation from some extraordinary people that helped my chances of being accepted. It will be because of the support I've received from all of you that I'm FINALLY able to become who I’m meant to be, a paramedic.
*I do have proof of my acceptance into this paramedic program, proof of cost, and contact information if further verification is requested. Please send me a message if so!