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

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.

About the author

Art Hsieh, MA, NRP teaches in Northern California at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. An EMS provider since 1982, Art has served as a line medic, supervisor and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook writer, author of "EMT Exam for Dummies," has presented at conferences nationwide and continues to provide direct patient care regularly. Art is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board. Contact Art at Art.Hsieh@ems1.com and connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

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