Westinghouse Academy adds training courses for EMTs, police, firefighters
If Perry Glover doesn't play professional football, he plans to be a paramedic.
That's why he enrolled in the new Emergency Response Technology program at Westinghouse Academy this year. When he graduates, he'll be a certified EMT and able to do a job in which he can help people.
“I'll be a young black male who came out of the 'hood doing something different,” said Glover, 17.
Pittsburgh Public Schools celebrated the start of the program Wednesday, along with Mayor Bill Peduto, city Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich and others.
Designed to help prepare students for careers as paramedics, firefighters and police officers, the program started this school year with hopes of boosting diversity among Pittsburgh's public safety ranks.
“This is how you create diversity in our public safety forces,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who was in town to celebrate the program's launch.
The AFT provided a $300,000 grant to the program, district officials said. The city of Pittsburgh last year donated an ambulance and fire truck for the students to use. The city and community groups donated more than $25,000 worth of equipment, including firefighter uniforms and breathing masks.
The program is open to 10th- through 12th-graders across Pittsburgh Public Schools, said Angela Mike, the district's executive director of career and technical education. The inaugural class is made up of 15 students, including three girls and students from Pittsburgh's Allderdice and University Prep. There are still some spots available.
“A lot of these students talk about these three (fields) as their dream jobs,” he said. “They're really excited.”
Students will get hands-on training and could graduate as fully certified Emergency Medical Technicians, said instructor Matt Patrick. He is working with police and firefighter academies to see that students receive some credit for the exit exams they will take to complete the program. Patrick also plans to work with the students on skills they'll need to further their public safety education, including passing written exams and preparing for physical fitness tests.
Patrick has been a volunteer firefighter for 16 years and an EMT for 15 years. When he was earning his certifications, he said, he took extra classes three nights a week during the summer while in college.
“Why not take it while you're in high school for free?” he asked.
Elizabeth Behrman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7886 or Lbehrman@tribweb.com.