Local Company Specializing in Medical Care and COVID Compliance on Movie Sets Creates Scholarships for Students in OCC’S New Paramedic Programs

Students entering Onondaga Community College’s new Paramedic certificate and degree programs are eligible to receive new scholarships thanks to a generous donation from CineMedics CNY, a local company which specializes in medical care and COVID compliance on movie sets across the country. The COVID testing protocols they created have become the industry standard nationwide. CineMedics CNY was founded by Heather Drake-Bianchi, a critical care paramedic who is a 2004 graduate of West Genesee High School.

Onondaga Community College

CineMedics CNY gifted the OCC Foundation $80,000 which will be used to support students in the new Paramedic programs this fall and in future years. CineMedics created both need-based and merit-based awards to assist students who want to dedicate their professional lives to saving the lives of others:

  • The CineMedics CNY Paramedic Excellence Awards is a merit-based scholarship program for students in either the certificate or degree programs. Up to three students will receive $2,000 each semester or session. Students must earn and maintain a minimum 3.2 grade point average to remain eligible.
  • The CineMedics CNY Emergency Medicine Awards is a need-based scholarship program established to attract Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) into either the degree or certificate program. Up to five students will receive $500 each at the beginning of their first fall semester to cover initial extraordinary expenses required by the program.

Full-time tuition during the 2021-2022 academic year is $2,545 per semester.

Onondaga Community College’s new Paramedic programs were created jointly with SUNY Upstate Medical University.

  • Students in the Paramedic A.A.S. degree program take general education courses at OCC to develop critical thinking and communication skills, and complete core math, science, and social science courses. SUNY Upstate delivers emergency medical sciences education and clinical skill development.
  • Students in the Paramedic certificate program earn their certification in just three semesters of study at both OCC and SUNY Upstate.

Students must be licensed Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) to enter either program. An EMT has the basic skills and knowledge necessary to stabilize and safely transport patients ranging from non-emergency and routine medical transports to life threatening emergencies. A paramedic is a medical professional who specializes in emergency treatment. Paramedics can provide life-saving treatment for someone until they can get to a doctor.

Drake-Bianchi’s decision to support students in OCC’s new Paramedic programs was based on her own experience as a student. “I was homeless in college for over a year. I couch-surfed with friends and spent a lot of time at the library. You can’t be both struggling financially and do well at school. I wanted to eliminate one of the troubles so that someone else can lift themselves up,” said Drake-Bianchi.

“It’s a thrill for our students to know that Heather Drake-Bianchi believes in them and supports them in such an extraordinary way as they work to become the next generation of paramedics. She’s truly a trailblazer in her industry. We’re honored she would share her success with our students as we collaborate with SUNY Upstate Medical University on these new Paramedic programs which will benefit the entire community,” said OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill.