San Diego Launches Free EMT Academy to DiversifyFire Service

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department is launching a free 6-month EMT Academy to attract underrepresented communities to the fire service. The program, which covers all expenses, aims to increase diversity in the fire service and begins on June 17.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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San Diego Launches Free EMT Academy to DiversifyFire Service

San Diego Launches Free EMT Academy to DiversifyFire Service

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, in partnership with the California Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Cal-JAC), is launching a free 6-month EMT Academy at the Educational Cultural Complex (ECC) in the Mountain View community. The program, which covers tuition, fees, uniforms, mileage, and childcare costs, aims to attract underrepresented communities to the fire service.

The EMT Academy, set to begin on June 17, will provide participants with everything they need, including the physical ability test, to prepare them to apply for the fire service after completion. The program is open to San Diego residents 18 and older with a high school diploma or equivalency and a valid driver's license. Priority will be given to individuals with demonstrated financial need.

Why this matters: This initiative addresses the lack of diversity in the fire service, which is critical for ensuring that emergency responders reflect the communities they serve. By increasing diversity, the program can lead to more effective and culturally sensitive emergency responses.

"The opportunity to participate in an EMT pre-apprenticeship at the Educational Cultural Complex creates equal access for minority populations and for more women to become first responders," said Tina M. King, president of the College of Continuing Education. The program aims to develop a safe and inclusive environment for Black and brown communities by diversifying the fire service.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2019, 96% of all career firefighters were men and 82% of them were white. "We don't want to have a specific number here, or a specific number here. We want folks to know, in communities all over San Diego, the fire service is something you can do," emphasized Fire Captain-Recruitment Officer Jason Shanley, who has worked in the fire service for over 20 years.

Successful graduates of the EMT Academy will earn a place on the Firefighter Candidate Testing Center's Statewide Eligibility List, providing a pathway to a career as a firefighter, paramedic, emergency dispatcher, and more. The program offers a great learning and networking opportunity for those who enroll.

Employment of EMTs and paramedics is projected to grow 5% through 2032, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. About 18,100 openings for EMTs and paramedics are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

"We work hard to make sure that our workforces are reflective of the communities we serve and we know this tuition-free program will be beneficial right here in Southeastern San Diego," said Robert Logan, deputy fire chief of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. The deadline to apply for the EMT Academy is Sunday, May 12, 2024.