Katelynn Jungling decided to take Emergency Medical Service training at the Cass Career Center on a whim.
Like many students about to graduate, the Raymore-Peculiar High School student was trying to figure out what to do with her life. Then she spotted the EMS program and decided to give it a try.
“I didn’t have any influence from the outside because no one in my family is involved in emergency services at all,” Jungling said. “I took a leap of faith, and I fell in love with it.”
After completing the program, Jungling decided to continue to her studies in the Cass Career Center firefighting program, and she proved quickly that the profession was a good fit for her.
Jungling became the first female high school student in the state to win a gold medal in firefighting at the Missouri SkillsUSA Leadership and Skills Conference. She will represent the state at the National SkillsUSA conference in Louisville June 24 to 29.
“I love the contact with the community, being able to go in and help make a difference. I love knowing the job I’m doing will help people,” Jungling said.
Gretta Riffle, the lead adviser for the SkillsUSA program at the Cass Career Center, explains the program is a student organization for career and technical skills.
“It’s like what FFA is for the agriculture kids or DECA is for the business kids. They focus on personal skills, technical skills and workplace skills,” Riffle said.
The three-day national firefighting competition for SkillsUSA will include written tests, basic firefighting skills tests, a job interview with fire chiefs from around the country and a test related to the physical demands of being a firefighter. Jungling scored high on everything at the state competition, including the physical portion, which is often where the female students fall behind.
“She’s just an amazing girl. It’s cool having a girl firefighter, but having one who is so real is great – is really special,” Riffle said. “She is just a great girl who works hard and tries hard and always has a positive attitude.”
Last year, Missouri’s SkillsUSA gold medal winner in firefighting was also a student at the Cass Career Center. Bill Shaumeyer, chief of the Fire Science Academy at the center, says the program is successful when students are willing to put the effort into it.
“I help them with everything they need to know, but they need to have the dedication to practice and keep up with it,” Shaumeyer said.
Shaumeyer credits Jungling’s win to a strong work ethic and dedication, as well as a desire to do firefighting and EMS as a career.
Jungling already has a state license as an EMT. She will take her certification exams for firefighting at the end of the school year.
Jungling’s plan is to go to Crowder College to complete a paramedic program and earn her associate’s degree before seeking a position working in an ambulance.
“She will walk out of the building ready for a job,” Shaumeyer said.