EMT grant application to benefit local youth

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Oxnard–The Community Services, Public Safety, Housing, & Development Committee unanimously ratified authorization for the Fire Department to submit a grant application to partner with California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) and provide Ventura County Youngsters EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) training on Tuesday, November 28.

FIRE Chief Alex Hamil­ton presented the item and noted that he recently attended the League of California Cities Conference in Sacramento as the president of the Fire Department section of the league.

He met with collaborative partners from the AB1168 legislative efforts in the hope of securing grant funding from an existing workforce development grant.

“Those efforts were not successful, but from those efforts, this grant came to our attention,” he said.

Hamilton said the grant is an exciting opportunity for youngsters across Oxnard and Ventura County.

“The Public Works Alliance, the collaborative group of policy experts, system leaders, research, and advocates working with EDD, developed a pilot version of the program in Oakland and was very successful,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s taking young adults that perhaps wouldn’t have considered a career in the EMS field or the Fire Service, takes those young adults and helps them succeed through an EMT Certification and helping them enter the workforce as an EMT in a variety of ways.”

He said the grant provides a stipend for youngsters attending EMT school, plus a range of wraparound services, including behavioral health support, physical fitness support, and potentially transport support.

“It really does try and grab folks that wouldn’t have considered or perhaps weren’t able to accomplish EMT Certification and provide them the support they need to get through the program,” Hamilton said. “It gives us an opportunity to connect with the community outside of community response, and there is no match requirement on the City’s behalf.”

He said the grant works initially by providing $200,000 in six months if they are successful, which is used for planning to establish the program for the youth.

“Then, based on all the planning going well and getting established, it provides $850,000 a year, over three years, to ensure that 40 young adults get certified as an EMT,” he said. “Ultimately, 120 young adults will be certified as EMTs by the end of the program.”

Hamilton anticipates hiring a project manager for the program at a cost the grant will cover. The City will not assume any cost for the project manager.

“There is no cost to the City on this, but we would be looking at a temporary fulltime employee to run this program,” he said.

Hamilton said one of the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic was that many classes were canceled or postponed, creating “an enormous shortage” of EMTs and Paramedics in the area.

“There were many who left the pre-hospital and healthcare fields during the pandemic as well,” he said. “It has created something of a shortage for us. The other thing we are a little bit concerned about is losing experienced EMTs and Paramedics to Santa Barbara County, as they are reforming their ambulance system over the next 18 months. This program will help us fill the ranks of EMTs, and ultimately, once they have gained experience as EMTs, they can potentially go on and become Paramedics.”

Hamilton said they’ll work with Housing, City Corps, and the Police Department to develop recruitment strategies and where they can find young adults who otherwise wouldn’t have considered an EMT career.

“We also have already built a great collaboration,” he said. “We have broad support from across the County, including the Board of Supervisors, Clinicas, Casa Pacifica, the ambulance company, (Gold Coast) Dignity Health, the Community Colleges, performance therapy for the physical fitness side, as well as the Ventura County Fire Chief’s Association, the labor associations that represent Firefighters in Ventura County are all supporting this initiative.”

He said if the City of Oxnard receives the grant, the six-month planning portion of the program will start in the first quarter of 2024.

“Once the planning has been completed, the annual operations funding will be provided, which is $850,000 a year over a three-year period,” he said. “It will likely conclude around February 2028.”

Hamilton said the City of Oxnard will look into developing sustainable funding streams to continue the program past the end of grant funding.

“Particularly if it’s successful as we hope it will be,” he said. “We’ve already had conversations with the Workforce Development Group of Ventura County, as well as the Ventura County Community Foundation.”

Committee Member Mayor John Zaragoza applauds the Board of Supervisors for supporting the grant to benefit the youngsters.

“Also, the Ventura County Emergency Medical Services, Casa Pacifica, Gold Coast Ambulance, Ventura County Community Foundation, Dignity Health, and also Therapy of Ventura and Oxnard Community College,” he said. “We’re looking out for the young folks to get trained, and I think it’s an excellent program.”

This article was originally published in the Tri County Sentry.

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