Aiken man establishes endowment scholarship after EMS workers save his life


A local man turned his life threatening experience into one that will help save lives in the future.  Jerry Waters told NewsChannel 6 his 13-year-old Boykin Spaniel, Mandy, started having a seizure one day and as he was carrying her to get help, he went into cardiac arrest.  Both are fine now, but Waters wants to make sure miracles like this happen for years to come. 

Waters, of Aiken, established the Jerry W. Waters Endowment Scholarship.  He announced it in the health sciences building of the school that trains future EMS workers Monday. 

“Aiken Technical College and I are establishing an endowment to provide scholarships to young Aiken students desiring to enter the field of emergency responders,” he said. 

A heartfelt ceremony took place after three Aiken County EMS workers saved Waters’ life back in September. 

“We take them for granted,” he explained.  “So many times these guys go through training that we don’t know how extensive it is and how hard it is. Sometimes they have to quit a little early and not fishing complete training.”

The 71-year-old established an endowment for students working to become EMTs at Aiken Technical College.  He did it as a thank you after Ed Eidson, Jared Derosier and Courtney Washburn responded when he went into cardiac arrest. Though their work that September day earned them money for others in their honor, they said very little. 

Eidson, an Assistant Shift Manager with Aiken County EMS, said “Just doing my job.”

Paramedic Jared Derosier responded, “God gives you your life back.  We’re just used as a tool.”

And for others, such as Courtney Washburn, just a smile showed she’s happy with the outcome.  

“It is a self perpetuating endowment, which means it should go on forever,” Waters told us.

Each time a student completes one of three phases to become an EMT, there’s a test, one that can be pricey. It is a problem that Jonathan Jones said is now covered thanks to Waters’ generosity. 

Jones, Program Director of EMS Programs, said “Some of the test, and keep in mind that there are two parts to each one of them, there is a practical hands on type of test and there is a computer based written test.  Each test can be up to $250 a piece.”

Waters is not disclosing the cost of the endowment, but when it comes to living another day with his furry friend, Mandy, and the future lives that will be saved, it’s no doubt worth it.

He replied, “Our population is aging in this country and we do need people like my three responders.”

The program director at the college said there are about 25 to 30 students who graduate from the program each rotation.  

Criteria for scholarship:

o   Recipient must be a resident of Aiken County

o   Preference will be given to a graduate of the Aiken County Career & Technology Center who was enrolled in the Emergency & Fire Management program

o   Recipient must be enrolled in the Associate in Applied Science Paramedic program

o   Recipient must have a minimum grade point average of 2.5

The first scholarship award will be made during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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