New program offers high school seniors a jump start at career as EMT

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There’s a new program that will be offered through Metropolitan Community College and the Kansas City Fire Department. The program includes training students for careers while they are earning a high school diploma.

Students in Kansas City Public Schools now have the chance to get a jump-start on becoming an EMT.

Kaleef Gant tried many different careers. He's EMT certified, and now is a paramedic student. He says if he had learned the skills in high school he would have had a head start with his career.

“If I had had that program, I think it would have been a direct correlation, I would have went right into it,” Gant said.

Chad Wright, the EMS Education Program Coordinator for MCC Penn Valley, says the goal of their partnership with the Kansas City Fire Department and Kansas City public schools is to recruit more people, and create a pathway for students into the career field at an earlier age.

“We`re going to be providing the EMS education to high school seniors, the EMT class over the course of a school year,” added Wright.

Rashawn Caruthers, Director of Career and Technical Education for Kansas City Public Schools, says any student in a Kansas City, Missouri public school is eligible to participate.

“This is an exciting opportunity for kids to be able to experience something new, that maybe they never thought about before,” Caruthers added.

“Most of those individuals are not applying, historically, because they don`t see the fire department as a viable job option,” said James Garrett, a KCFD spokesman.

Garrett says it's a win-win for the students and the community.

“We appreciate the opportunity to try and put a skill inside the community we wish to get back out of the community,” Garrett said.

All involved agree that starting earlier gives students more time to learn, practice, and train... and the skills will make them more valuable in many work environments.

“Traditionally people think of EMTs and paramedics as only on an ambulance, or only on a fire truck, which is the vast majority of what they do, and obviously the fire department has a huge need, but there are so many other opportunities for them,” said Wright.

Gant says he felt that EMTs and paramedics were extremely valuable to the world.

“It was something that I wanted to be a part of,” added Gant.

And he thinks a program for high schoolers will generate more interest.

EMT high school students will learn over the course of a school year, starting in August 2016 finishing in May of 2017.

Some students will be able to be hired on an apprenticeship basis right out of the program.

The fire department gives scholarships where they provide funding for some students to complete the schooling.