CLIFTON PARK — This summer, six students from Shenendehowa High School 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, who are in short supply across the country.
The new program was born out of a partnership between the City of Clifton Park, Clifton Park-Halfmoon EMS, Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC), Career Jam and Shenendehowa Central School District. It offered students 17 and older the chance to gain hands-on medical experience before going to college by enrolling in HVCC and earning seven college credits as they studied to become paramedics. Classes included lectures as well as hands-on EMT training and observation, all in preparation for the state written certification test.
The program, funded by Saratoga County, targeted students interested in the medical field. It was intended to help them on their career path to becoming paramedics, nurses, doctors or other healthcare workers. In the meantime, the program trained students to become paramedics.
“This program was born out of the need for more people in our first responder community, especially with our paramedics,” Clifton Park Town supervisor Phil Barrett said in a statement. “The last thing we want to reach is a point where you call 911 and there’s a delayed response because there’s not enough staff on staff.”
The Clifton Park & Halfmoon Emergency Corps is currently adequately staffed, said Alan Bell, the executive director, but demand in the area continues to rise. Calls to ambulance services last year soared to around 8,200 from 6,800 the previous year, Bell said in May.
“This pipeline helps us a lot going forward,” Bell said at an event announcing the program’s launch. He added that the profession is often a common stepping stone to other healthcare careers and turnover can be high.
The program earned the Shenendehowa District the Champions of Change Award from the New York State School Boards Association. The program has been recognized for maximizing existing resources to address equity issues and demonstrate strong student academic performance while introducing unique, innovative and forward-looking learning environments.
“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 path empowers our young people to serve their communities and meet the growing demands for a workforce in frontline emergency response.”
The program will be offered across 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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