CCC alum finds new life path after injury

CCC grad Danielle Pastor enjoys her work as a paramedic with Guardian Medical Transport in Flagstaff.


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Coconino Community College graduate Danielle Pastor ate, slept and dreamed soccer.

But a career-ending injury in the spring of 2008 took her life in a new direction.

Pastor is now a paramedic with Guardian Medical Transport in Flagstaff. She was born and raised in Flagstaff, which is why the community holds a special place in her heart.

Her journey to her new career began when she took an EMT course, co-taught by paramedics with the Flagstaff Fire Department, at Coconino Community College in the fall of 2008.

“I enjoyed the EMT class,” she said. “The instructors I had at CCC told me I’d be a great paramedic.”

They were right.

“They knew what I was meant for before I knew,” Pastor added. “That’s the cool part of CCC. They get to know you really well as a person.”

The paramedic program is run through Northern Arizona Healthcare, with whom CCC partners, but the associate’s degree is conferred by CCC and is an accredited program. Pastor said she would register at CCC and take classes at the NAH facilities. The program was 18 months, with 587 hours of classroom instruction and 500 hours of clinical and field time. She was named valedictorian of the class and was the CCC Emergency Medical Service student of the year in 2014.

“It’s a very community-based program,” Pastor said.

The paramedic course gave Pastor immediate insight into the real world of the job.

“So you get a best-of-both-worlds idea of what the fire department and Guardian do,” Pastor said, adding that she received hands-on experience that proved valuable.

Pastor, an accomplished soccer athlete at Flagstaff High School, had started college in California because she had received a scholarship to play soccer. After her career-ending injury, she came home for rehabilitation and transferred to NAU. There, she received a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2009. After that, she moved to Portland, Ore., for a time to be a soccer coach, and she also served as an EMT for Metro West Ambulance. She returned to Flagstaff in 2012, and she reverse-transferred her university credits to CCC to get her start as a paramedic. She started with Guardian in 2013 as an EMT, and she went into the paramedic transition program. She received her associate’s degree from CCC in 2014.

Of the work that defines being a paramedic, Pastor said, “I really enjoy the sense of family.”

She and her colleagues with Guardian and the Flagstaff Fire Department work together in 24-hour shifts, and they get to know each other like family. They grow to trust one another and bond because of the nature of the work.

The work itself is rewarding, especially when she gets to follow up on a person she helped.

Being a paramedic in Flagstaff is a busy job with a large spectrum of types of calls. Paramedics run on traumas, cardiac arrests, pediatric emergencies, rescues, difficulty breathing and so much more.

“There’s not much we don’t get,” Pastor said.

A typical day starts with shift change at 8 a.m. The paramedics and EMTs do their check lists and equipment checks. She’s stationed in District 51, which runs from Mormon Lake to Kelly Canyon and Bellemont, down the Milton Corridor to Southside along Butler Avenue to Fourth Street. They cover NAU, the freeway and all of the west side of Flagstaff. Two trucks in the station rotate calls. She’s on Truck 54. They are available all day for any call and offer mutual aid to a variety of emergency services department in the area as needed. Truck 54 responds to an average of eight to 10 calls a day. They pick up, transport and restock the truck before they run another call.

“Some days, it’s an easy thing to do,” Pastor said. “Some days, it’s not.”

Paramedics often see things that are tough for humans to see.

She added, “It’s takes a special person to do it. But if you’re the right person for it, it’s a very satisfying job because you get to wake up in the morning and help save lives.”

Pastor said she has plans for the future.

She wants to be a nurse anesthetist to further her medical career. Being a flight medic for sister company Guardian Air would also be something she’s interested in.

Soccer was, and still is, her passion. She still coaches, too.

“This was never really in the plans, but sometimes life gives you options,” Pastor said of her new career path, smiling.

For a video of Pastor's experiences, visit her at the CCC YouTube page here.


Wednesday, 6th July 2016

All Dates

  • Wednesday, 6th July 2016