Twenty-five years later, a pair of childhood friends have found themselves working together again; This time to assist current high schoolers in developing their own futures. David Cruickshank, now the department head of the Criminal Justice and Protective Services at Vinal Technical High School in Middletown and his old buddy Dan Clemente, now the Human Resources Director of Emergency Resource Management have paired up to address the shortage of EMS providers across Connecticut and equally as important, the shortage of future EMS leaders. The two EMS-Instructors, along with their teams, have created a Junior EMS Leadership Program at Vinal Tech High School. This new and paid internship opportunity is for high school students in their Junior and Senior years.
The program, designed to familiarize young leaders with the various elements that form a strong and dynamic team, will also help students develop leadership skills of their own. The Junior Leadership Program consists of an orientation, completing personal assessments, a series of 24 weekday work-based learning sessions working in the field with real EMS leaders, and a variety of supplemental reading and research to empower the student.
The custom-made curriculum was based off of the Federal EMS Agenda 2050 and the NEMSMA Seven Pillars of the National EMS Officer Competencies. Two students who have demonstrated leadership skills will be selected each year and will work side by side a variety of different EMS leaders to develop their abilities. They will deal with community needs, opportunities, challenges and resources. Th hope is that it gives them the opportunity to develop leadership, communication, and team building skills and take this back to their classroom peers as well.
“For years we have been working with small, volunteer departments to meet their staffing needs. Our employees have almost 1,000,000 hours of time working side by side within our volunteer partner agencies. During that time, we have seen many leadership changes. One common issue is under-training on business and leadership skills many newly appointment managers or chiefs have. We have to remember, the main reason most people start volunteering at a service is to give back to the community, not necessarily to process payroll or handle discipline for a staff member. So, although we continue to support those currently in command, we wanted to go to the next generation to begin to tackle the problem. So, high school it is. We hope that when these kids enter into the public safety field of their choice, that they bring additional knowledge with them. These kids may be my boss one day.” - Dan Clemente
The Junior EMS Leadership Program is set up to be a continuous, endless program. Each year there will be one Junior and one Senior student in order to facilitate a peer mentor-ship opportunity from year to year while handing off knowledge between students easily during transition years. The student will keep a perpetual journal so they can aid future students and peer-to-peer knowledge is retained.
Lila Cartwright, a senior, was one of the first students selected for the program and has played a significant role in getting the program off the ground. “I’ve been planning on going into the medical field since I was little, this is an amazing opportunity to learn more about EMS and prepare me for the future. I hope to learn more about the ins and outs of EMS leadership and the ambulance.” - Lila Cartwright
About Emergency Resource Management: ERM, founded in 2003 and located in Portland, CT, has been a driving force in EMS staffing and consulting across the tri-state area. ERM has been voted a Hartford Courant ‘Top Workplaces’ for the past eight years in a row.
About Vinal Technical High School: Vinal Technical High School, part of the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System, offers 14 career and technical education programs, such as Criminal Justice and Protective Services, HVAC, Carpentry, Information Technology, Electrical, and more. Approximately 500 students attend from 27 nearby sending towns. The school boasts many accomplishments, such as their Emergency Operation Center, which had its ribbon cutting in December of 2019. Vinal Tech’s unique educational program prepares graduates for immediate employment, entry into apprenticeship programs or admission into a two- or four-year college. Learn more: vinal.cttech.org.