Partnership with KCFD Prepares Students for Future


Students in the inaugural Emergency Medical Technician class at Manual Career and Technical Center showcased their skills last week during a visit from Mayor Sly James and Fire Chief Paul Berardi.

Mayor James spoke to the class of 17 students and praised their determination and willingness to pursue such an admirable profession.

“The kids in this program are making decisions that will shape their lives and offer them employment in a sector that helps people and does good work every day,” Mayor James said.

The EMT program places high school seniors in a yearlong course that allows students to earn their Emergency Medical Technician Certification. Students are then given the opportunity to be placed in an apprenticeship program with the Kansas City Fire Department.

Kansas City Public Schools and KCFD began developing the program more than two years ago when the idea was presented to City Council. Fire Chief Berardi believes the program not only helps students but also provides the fire department with invaluable resources.

“It provides the Fire Department with the ability to have a trained workforce—not only are the [candidates] qualified, but they meet our qualifications before they even come to us,” Berardi said.

Manual’s EMT program is the only one of its kind in the entire nation, according to Chief Berardi. Other districts offer EMT classes, but they do not provide a direct apprenticeship program with a Fire Department.

Manual Tech’s director, Rashawn Caruthers, believes students need more of these direct career opportunities. Caruthers says that in addition to hands-on training, students also make invaluable connections with current EMT professionals and government officials.

“This partnership with KCFD has been life changing for the students. Access to government officials, whether it be Mayor Sly James or Chief Berardi, is constantly available to students. They always have access to a mentor,” Caruthers said. “This is real to them. This is an experience that can carry them on through the rest of their lives.”

During his closing remarks to the class, Mayor James made it clear to students that their hard work will pay off in the future.

“What you’re doing today is foundational for what you’re doing tomorrow. Keep working at it. I’m proud of you for being here…There is a need for what you’re learning to do and there is an even bigger need for being a paramedic,” Mayor James said.