Rockland Community college is preparing to train a new generation of emergency medical technicians. In response to a nationwide shortage of health care professionals, RCC, the Workforce Development board of Rockland County, and Rockland Works, have joined forces to create a program that will fast track qualified candidates to fill those vital positions and provide guaranteed employment for RCC students.
The new partnership began before the pandemic when Dr. Michael Baston , the president of RCC, approached the county’s health care providers to inquire about their staffing needs. While the pandemic delayed their plans, Baston is confident that this collaborative approach, in which RCC provides certifications and opportunities directly linked to problems facing the community, will be mutually beneficial to his students and the county. The President hopes to expand the scope of the program to include other medical certifications as well.
“We’ll start with EMT’s but that just one part of the goal, we want to get into a lot of different areas in health care to provide opportunities for our students”, said Baston. “We’re still in talks with the hospitals to see what programs they want to see launched”
The leaders of Rockland’s hospitals and medical services have stated that this new approach could be a great benefit to their operations.
“The past few years have been challenging for every last one of us”, stated Patrick Schmincke, Chief Operating officer of Good Samaritan Hospital, “recruiting for critical positions, especially EMTs, has been difficult. Thankfully someone was very bright and creative thought ‘instead of doing this alone why not create a partnership and do this together?” Schmincke thanked RCC and Rockland’s Work Force Development Board for pioneering a response to the problem “which is sure to benefit the county for years to come”.
18 students will make up the first class of potential EMTs, when the program officially launches in January. Once they complete their three month certification, those students will join the ranks of Rockland’s medical workers providing local hospitals with much needed support and students with lucrative, stable employment.
“We intend for (our students) to work in Rockland” said the RCC president. Baston stated that, thanks to the partnership between the workforce development board and local health care providers, those enrolled in the program “will have jobs as soon as they finish, we’re not just preparing people for abstract opportunities”.
Tim Egan, the Chief Information Officer of Rockland Paramedic Services, and one of the key coordinators of the new initiative, described the arrangment as a “collaborative effort to create EMT’s” and a lifeline to “unemployed and underemployed residents.”
RCC’s EMT course was announced on Tuesday during a ceremony attended by state and county officials including Executive Ed Day, Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, Assemblyman Mike Lawler, and County Legislator Aney Paul, all of whom thanked the college and it’s new partners for taking steps to support Rockland.