Prowers County is trying to address the lack of EMT responders in every community in the county. To that end, Prowers County Commissioners met with Lamar Fire Chief Jeremy Burkhart, Heather Burkhart of the LCC Nursing Program, and Ann-Marie Crampton representing the Lamar Community College Foundation.
The county has access to American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, some of which can be used to provide grants or scholarships to students who enroll in the college’s EMT-Basic training program, running in the evenings until in December for the fall semester.
Enrollment opportunities will focus on current high school students from Lamar, Granada, Holly and Wiley who would choose to take the course. Grant funding would be available for two to three years under the current general scheme. Commissioner Tom Grasmick said the county would need an invoice to determine enrollment levels to show how the $100,000 funding would be spent.
Fire Chief Lamar Burkhart said that after training from their superior, students must be at least 18 years old to be listed on the national registry as EMTs. Heather Burkhart said while students from outlying areas can take the course, Lamar Community College is the logical choice for her and her instructors.
“We have not visited any school campuses at this time, but we have reached out via email, alerting schools to the availability of the program,” she explained, adding that she hopes each school will encourage students interested in learning about what EMT training requires.
Commissioner Ron Cook suggested that the scholarship be open to those who are out of school, an age group of 18-30, who are local and would be interested in working as an EMT.
Commissioner Wendy Buxton-Andrade said a lack of paramedics has put some communities, like Holly, in a critical position given that their paramedic staff are very small and response times from Lamar and now from each community, would be a problem for someone in a health emergency.
Crampton and the Burkharts said they would begin to develop interest in the introductory program, determine the number of interested students and report back to commissioners by the end of September.
By Russ Baldwin