'Freedom House 2.0' offers EMS training for those in disadvantaged communities

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will launch the EMS mentorship and financial support program based on the original Freedom House founded in 1968

By Laura French

PITTSBURGH — The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) will launch a new EMS training program based on the Freedom House initiative founded in the city in 1968. 

"Freedom House 2.0" seeks to recruit, train and employ first responders from economically disadvantaged communities, many of which have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, according to a UPMC announcement

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will launch the
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will launch the "Freedom House 2.0" program, based on the original Freedom House initiative of the 1960s and 70s, which will provide EMS training and mentorship to students from economically disadvantaged communities. (Photo/University of Pittsburgh Medical Center)

"Just as Pittsburgh's original Freedom House modernized emergency, prehospital response, Freedom House 2.0 has the potential to help transform community health," said Dan Swayze, UPMC Health Plan vice president of community services and director of operations for UMPC Innovative Health Care Solutions, in a statement. "The programs will galvanize a new part of the health care workforce who can be empowered to deliver meaningful service and who can be drawn from the communities where such care is needed the most." 

The program, which will begin in January, will provide participants with mentorship and financial support, as well as state-approved EMT certification and community paramedic and community healthcare worker training. Two, 10-week cohorts of students who face health and economic disparities will be trained in both traditional EMS skills and skills to address critical, non-emergency psychosocial needs such as poorly managed chronic medical and behavioral health conditions. 

"This community-based training program recognizes how emergency response has evolved. UPMC and UPMC Health Plan understand that today's paramedics need to take time to find out what an individual actually needs and get him or her connected to the right system of care, rather than just assuming the emergency department has the best solution," Swayze said in a statement.

Successful graduates of the Freedom House 2.0 program are guaranteed an interview with UPMC and other job placement support. The program is funded with a $235,000 grant from Partner4Work, a public workforce investment board. 


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