Creating Jobs that Save Lives

All photos by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors.

Fifteen men became the second cohort of students to graduate from a pilot program that trains young people of color in underserved communities to become Emergency Medical Technicians.

The first cohort consisted of 17 men, 11 of whom have already passed the national registry exam to become certified EMTs. Approximately 25 women are being recruited for the third cohort.

Raul Cuellar, the valedictorian of the first cohort of graduates, is now an EMT pursuing a career as a firefighter. He congratulates Chase Haley, valedictorian of the second cohort of graduates.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who served as commencement speaker, told the graduates: “For many of you, becoming an EMT is an opportunity to improve your personal quality of life. But as many of you recognize, it is also an opportunity to improve the life of your community. For your willingness to serve, I commend you.”

The LA EMT program is a two-year pilot designed to introduce young adults to viable career pathways in the health and public safety sectors. It is a partnership among the Office of Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, the California Endowment, the Worker Education and Resource Center, McCormick Ambulance, the Los Angeles County Fire and Mental Health Departments, and the Stentorians.

LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby addresses the graduates.

Based on the Alameda County Emergency Medical Services program, the LA EMT program includes workforce readiness, coaching, life skills, counseling, mentoring, tutoring, and case management services.

“Joining this program was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made,” said Chase Haley, one of the graduates. “Through these long weeks, I’ve gained brothers, guidance and insight into a career field that will not only change my life but everyone I come in contact with.”

“LA EMT showed me how effective teamwork strengthens bonds but also improves individual character,” added Cairo Saunders, another graduate.

Employment in the field of healthcare is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.4 million new jobs.