CLIFTON PARK – Six Shenendehowa High School students this summer completed the EMT Career Pathway Pilot Program. The initiative, unveiled in May, was created, in part, to serve as a model for how to build a pipeline of EMT workers, which are in short supply nationwide.
The new program was built out of a partnership between the Town of Clifton Park, Clifton Park-Halfmoon EMS, Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC), Career Jam and the Shenendehowa Central School District. It provided students 17 and older the chance to gain hands-on medical experience before going to college by enrolling at HVCC and earning seven college credits as they studied to be EMTs. Coursework included lectures as well as hands-on EMT training and shadowing, all in preparation for the state’s written certification test.
The program, funded through Saratoga County, targeted students who have an interest in the medical field. It was meant to help them on their career paths to becoming paramedics, nurses, doctors or other healthcare workers. In the meantime, the program trained the students to be EMTs.
“This program was born from the fact that we need more people in our first responder community, specifically with our EMTs,” Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said in a statement. “The last thing we ever want to get to is a point where you call 911 and there is a delayed response because there is not enough personnel on staff.”
The Clifton Park & Halfmoon Emergency Corps is currently sufficiently staffed, said Alan Bell, the executive director, but demand in the region continues to increase. Calls for ambulance services last year climbed to roughly 8,200, up from 6,800 the previous year, Bell said in May.
“This pipeline helps us greatly for the future,” Bell said during an event announcing the launch of the program. He added that the profession is often a common stepping stone for other health care careers, and turnover can be high.
The program earned the Shenendehowa district the New York State School Boards Association’ Champions of Change Award. The program was recognized for optimizing existing resources to address issues of equity and demonstrating strong student academic performance while introducing unique learning environments that are innovative and focused on the future.
“As a school system, it is our responsibility to provide students with options and opportunities that go beyond the walls of Shenendehowa,” L. Oliver Robinson, superintendent of schools, said in a statement. “Creating this career pathway allows our young people to serve their community and meet the growing workforce demands in frontline emergency response.”
The program will be offered throughout Saratoga County next year, according to a Shenendehowa spokesperson.
Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.
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