The St. Paul Fire Department will provide more details on Monday on a new basic transport service employing young, diverse emergency medical technicians.
The effort is meant to help bring more people of color into the Twin Cities EMT field, which is predominately white.
The 10 hires are all graduates of St. Paul's training academy. Instructor Dave Page of Inver Hills Community College says they are providing excellent care while reflecting the communities they serve.
"They're being measured to a standard that is superhuman," Page says. "They can't just function at a normal level. They have to prove that they're not only capable but they're good at it, and they're proving that."
The academy and transport service have the support of Fire Chief Tim Butler, who says he would like to see more firefighters of diverse backgrounds. Fewer than 1 in 5 St. Paul firefighters is a person of color, and the department has had a history of racial tension.
The service, which shuttles people who are treated for nonemergency medical care, is being supervised by the department's EMS division.
Page says the service will help the new workers gain experience while bringing in new revenue to keep the academy sustainable.
"And it really is empowering these youth," he says, "especially from diverse cultures, to be able to earn their own keep."
Page says the service is off to a strong start. He says one bilingual EMT was recently able to assist a patient in the Hmong language.