Kudos to developers for facing diversity challenge
Creating this program was no small feat and required a lot of motivation and guts to bring it online
By Art Hsieh
First, congrats to well-known EMS educator David Page and his staff for creating a modern-day "Freedom House" in St. Paul. While much of our industry laments about how difficult or challenging it is to develop or maintain a diverse workforce, this crew puts its money where its mouth is and is training a new generation of EMS providers that more closely reflects the community it serves.
Having said that, creating this program was no small feat and required a lot of motivation and guts to bring it online. Not all communities have the resources or the commitment from decision makers to bring all of the concerns together and find ways to overcome them. So kudos to those folks as well for creating the environment to allow a program like this to take root and blossom.
The issues that surround the lack of progress in recruiting EMS students from culturally diverse backgrounds are old and deep. In Calif., where being a paramedic is often a standard requirement for fire department hiring, organizations are finding it very difficult to recruit ethnically diverse individuals. EMS education programs routinely find their classrooms filled with mostly Caucasian males, and not surprisingly, few role models exist in leadership positions for new or prospective students.
The hope is that programs like this one will supply suggestions or best practices that we can use to develop programs elsewhere in the United States. Diversity won't happen naturally; it will take effort and commitment.