Thirteen high school seniors from across Southeast Arkansas have launched a new career path with a first-time training opportunity—free EMT education and certification courses offered at University of Arkansas at Monticello College of Technology-McGehee and Southeast Arkansas College (SEARK) in Pine Bluff.

The EMT Scholarship Training Program is provided by Arkansas Rural Health Partnership’s (ARHP) Health Education for Local Providers (HELP) Expansion Project created in 2016 with funds from a USDA Delta Health Care Services grant.

“My favorite part about the program is we learn something each night,” said Tarra Peek, a Warren High School senior enrolled in the UAM-McGehee course. “The very first night we were CPR-certified and you never know what to expect. It’s always something interesting that you’re learning and this program will help me gain experience to get into programs I plan to attend in the future.”

Upon completing the semester long course, Tarra and her fellow UAM-McGehee students will be fully equipped to enter the healthcare profession.

“Due to the vast shortage of ambulance workers in the region, the need for an increased number of well-prepared emergency response personnel is crucial in the Arkansas Delta,” said ARHP executive director Mellie Bridewell.

“The ARHP has plans to implement additional programs like this in the local high schools that will allow students to pursue health careers that are needed in the region. ARHP member hospitals are committed to working with these students to begin to enter into health careers their senior year that will ultimately lead to jobs in our hospitals and clinics.”

Before expanding to include high school seniors, the free training program was offered to firefighters across 25 departments in 12 counties. A dozen received their certification, including Kelly Reid of the Camden Fire Department.

“The EMT program was very informative and is a great asset to southeast Arkansas [for] educating medical responders,” Reid said. “I took the class to be able to help in a medical emergency before EMS personnel arrive. I’m now an instructor at the Arkansas Fire Training Academy at Southern Arkansas University Tech in Camden.”

Star City High School’s Madelann Cash is attending SEARK and said of her experience so far, “What I like about the EMT program is the hands-on instruction we are receiving. Using the [simulation training] ‘dummies’ has definitely been a fun learning experience.”

“I have loved working with these high school kids and seeing the excitement they have to learn about helping people,” said USDA Program Coordinator Debbie Tiner, RN. “When you see them ready to learn you know they are going to be good at what they will be doing. And this training program will be a huge asset to the communities of Southeast Arkansas.”

The ten-hospital, non-profit ARHP includes Ashley County Medical Center in Crossett, Baptist Health-Stuttgart, Bradley County Medical Center in Warren, Chicot Memorial Medical Center in Lake Village, Dallas County Medical Center in Fordyce, Delta Memorial Hospital in Dumas, DeWitt Hospital & Nursing Home, Drew Memorial Health System in Monticello, Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff and McGehee Hospital.

For additional information about all ARHP programs, call (870) 632-7299.


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