Fifteen years ago, Albany Technical College rolled out our hometown heroes marketing campaign. The campaign recognized the contributions made by our graduates who work in law enforcement, emergency services, and firefighting. You may remember ads in the airport, on billboards, TV, and radio. The current COVID-19 crisis focuses an even greater emphasis on graduates from these programs. Now more than ever, these Albany Technical College graduates expose themselves to the risk of injury and illness as they go about their work. More importantly, they expose themselves to the potential hazards of COVID-19 while we shelter at home. Fire fighters respond to the dangers of burning buildings. EMTs and Paramedics continue to provide medical treatment and transportation. Law enforcement continue to keep our community safe, and at least one of our alumni who serves as police officer partially succumb to COVID-19. He is recovering at home after spending some time in the hospital on a ventilator. The Titan family was ecstatic to learn of his improvement, and we pray that his recovery continues.
Other Albany Tech graduates also serve our community while placing themselves in harm's way. Registered and practical nurses continue to address their patients’ needs. Surgical and central supply technicians still prepare for non-discretionary medical procedures. Medical imaging technicians assist in patient diagnosis. Dental assistants aid in preparing for emergency procedures. Medical assistants support physicians while helping to maintain the appropriate levels of social distancing. Pharmacy technicians work to get us the medications we need for both wellness and comfort. Medical coders and health information technicians assist hospitals and medical practices maintain the cashflow required to continue to purchase protective medical equipment and supplies.
Other less obvious, but still essential, contributions are made by other Albany Technical College graduates who don’t work in public safety or healthcare. Operations technicians are active in the making of paper towels and toilet tissue needed for both our healthcare facilities and for those who are sheltering at home. Logisticians and warehouse technicians process and handle essential goods as they move from producer to consumer. Commercial truck drivers and delivery drivers transport indispensable products. Industrial operations and mechatronics technicians repair and fabricate military equipment to be placed back into the defense inventory.
Some of our faculty and staff continue to be of service while they wait until its safer to return to work. Some of our CDL faculty have volunteered to deliver essential goods to our local hospital. Our Paramedic faculty and some students work with our local EMTs to insure continuous coverage. Some of our medical faculty have volunteered to assist to screen individuals for COVID-19, while others have made free non-medical respirators to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
In normal circumstances, we would celebrate as an entire college with a resounding, “it’s a great day to be a Titan!” however, I’m not ready to yet proclaim that it’s a great day to be a Titan. We’ve lost a faculty member and two students. We’ve lost too many of our friends and neighbors. I am, however, beginning to be encouraged. This summary and recognition of the efforts of graduates, students, and faculty to flatten the curve is not all inclusive. I’m sure that I haven’t included a description of their entire contribution. I acknowledge that graduates from other technical colleges provide similar services with the same level of individual courage. However, the contributors that I described were provided by your neighbors. Eighty-five percent (85%) of our students live within a 20-mile radius of the Dougherty County line. Seventy-seven percent (77%) work within 30 miles of Albany after graduation. We are in this together. Let’s continue to work together to ensure that we enroll and graduate some of our most essential workers in this community. Please join this very proud college president in expressing gratitude for the contributions of our hometown and regional heroes.