Constant collaboration with the colleges.
That’s the message from Jeremey Shumaker, Director for AMR & Gold Coast Ambulance in Ventura County and AMR and CALSTAR in Santa Barbara County, whose mission includes working with the community colleges of the South Central Coast Regional Consortium (SCCRC).
“Emergency medical services is an industry where you have to make sure you have a steady flow of qualified candidates,” said Shumaker. “It’s critical that we partner with our colleges.”
AMR is the largest paramedic company in the world and employs approximately 450 personnel in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. More than 90 percent of emergency medical technicians and approximately 75 percent of paramedics in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties have been trained at an SCCRC college.
Collaboration includes serving on various college advisory committees and providing feedback on training practices. Shumaker, for example, is in contact with Ventura College Paramedic Program Director Thomas O’Connor regularly.
“The partnership has been phenomenal,” said O’Connor, who estimates approximately 70 percent of program graduates have found work in Ventura County, with most of those jobs with AMR. Collaboration includes students serving internships of up to 720 hours with AMR and other private and public agencies.
Students interested in launching their career with AMR interview with the company during their internship, with virtually all of them being offered a conditional job offer once their training is complete and certification is secured. “The result is that pretty much every student has a job before they’re even done with the program,” O’Connor said.
Many of those students, he said, have gone on to work in the public sector throughout and beyond California. Two former students landed jobs in Australia.
The company is also working with Moorpark College, which partners with the Conejo Valley Unified School District in providing a dual enrollment emergency medical responder certificate program. And AMR is in discussion with Moorpark College regarding the donation of an ambulance for the Moorpark EMT program.
Almost all SCCRC colleges have an EMT program, with both Ventura and Cuesta colleges also having a paramedic program. The Cuesta College program, a full-time endeavor that generally runs from January through December, is taught on the San Luis Obispo campus and is offered either as a certificate or as part of a larger associate of science degree. The Ventura College Paramedic Studies Program is the only one of its kind fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs in Ventura County. Requirements for both programs include being a certified emergency medical technician.
The programs, which have secured equipment such as manikins, monitors, simulators and more through Strong Workforce Program dollars, are proving critical at a time when the industry is facing a national shortage of paramedics. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast steady employment growth for the industry through 2029.
“We’re trying to do as much as we can to remove the barriers to becoming a paramedic or EMT,” said Shumaker. “As an industry partner, we are passionate about making sure the colleges have what they need to be successful because, ultimately, their success is our success.”