Kaiser Permanente support of an emergency medical technician program helps create diverse teams and supports community health. Jessica Sarmiento, pictured above, completed the program.
Jessica Sarmiento has a dream, and a grant from Kaiser Permanente is helping her get one step closer to attaining it.
The 22-year-old wants to be a physician, but first she’s attending community college while training to be an emergency medical technician (EMT) to help finance her schooling. EMTs care for sick or injured people in an ambulance or in an emergency department.
“I love helping people,” she said.
An EMT training program that Kaiser Permanente supports is helping Sarmiento and 15 others between the ages of 18 and 24 advance along their career path. This past year, the Greater Southern Alameda Area (GSAA) Community Benefit program supported the REACH Rescue EMT program with a $75,000 grant. The area also made its San Leandro and Fremont emergency departments available so that the program’s 16 participants could fulfill a clinical rotation requirement for certification.
Regional Community Benefit will continue the financial support of the training program for the next two years, helping an additional 40 young adults.
“This investment is part of a larger regional strategy. It’s a natural step in developing and diversifying our workforce, and for supporting community health because we know that people who are gainfully employed are also healthier,” GSAA Public Affairs Director Debra Lambert said. “By increasing access to advanced training and professional opportunities for youth from communities that are under-represented in the health care workforce, we are also helping to break the cycle of poverty and ultimately improving health in underserved communities.”
The program benefits young men and women of color, a population that is underrepresented in emergency medical services and other allied health care careers. Many of the students face formidable obstacles to higher education and a career.
The REACH Rescue EMT Training Program is run out of the REACH Ashland Youth Center in San Leandro. Operated by the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, the center collaborates with several community partners to offer a range of programs that include educational and vocational training, as well as wellness and artistic activities.
The EMT training program is free to all students, and they also receive support services — from resume writing and other soft skills training to breakfast each morning — that are rarely offered in other EMT programs.
The nonprofit Soulciety provides job placement, training, and leadership development at the REACH Ashland Youth Center. Soulciety’s director, Aaron Horner, said Kaiser Permanente’s support of the EMT program gives the students the opportunity as well as the support they need to succeed.
Each of the 16 participants completed the five-month program, and three, including Sarmiento, have taken and passed a National Registry EMT certification test, a requirement to work as an EMT. Three have been accepted to a fire academy, which requires completion of an EMT training program.
Allowing the students to do their rotation at Kaiser Permanente was life-changing for many of them, Horner added.
“When they leave the rotation, their eyes are just wide open,” he said. “It increases their commitment and made the whole idea of a career more imaginable.”
Sarmiento is getting closer to her ideal career. She recently completed her clinical requirement, a one-day, 10-hour shift, at the Kaiser Permanente San Leandro Medical Center, where she said she liked being in a hospital setting.
The experience has strengthened her resolve to work in health care and left her with a good impression of Kaiser Permanente.
“I feel privileged and honored to be here,” Sarmiento said. “(Kaiser Permanente) cares, just by offering this program.”