How one local company partnered with United Way to develop a new career exploration program for underserved OC students.
We never quite know when we’ll be struck by the inspiration that generates a great idea. For Nisha Verma, Senior Legal Counsel, Falck Mobile Health, it happened while attending a culmination ceremony held for high school students who had completed summer internships with various local companies through Orange County United Way’s United for Student Success℠ initiative.“Hearing about the positive experiences these students had made me want to provide an opportunity with my company,” said Nisha. “However, I didn’t think that an internship was the best fit.”
Instead, Nisha sat down with Sergio Contreras, Executive Director, United for Student Success, to discuss another way her company could offer support to local students. The result was a new career exploration program: Youth Career Connections First Responder Academy with Falck Mobile Health.
This was such a good fit for Falck and it enabled us to make an impact with the resources we have. It was the perfect opportunity to support United Way. —Nisha Verma, Senior Legal Counsel, Falck Mobile Health
Across the nation, communities are seeing a shortage of first responders and emergency medical service providers. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a fire department or contracted ambulance service—everyone is experiencing the need for more people to join the field,” said Jeff Lucia, former paramedic and current Director of Marketing & Communications, Falck USA, who helped with the program’s development and execution.
Not only was the partnership between Falck Mobile Health and United Way a great way to expose the future workforce to an industry with jobs to offer, Nisha and Jeff felt it was also a meaningful opportunity to show students a career path that would empower them to give back to their communities in a different way. “It’s an incredible privilege to respond to 911 calls and help people in an emergency. It’s a trusted profession, and to serve under that trust is humbling and a powerful life experience,” shared Jeff. “It’s a great career and a great starting step for someone who wants to go into medicine or public safety.”
I think this was truly an eye opening experience for the students who participated—they could see themselves in this field and many expressed interest in attending EMT school. —Jeff Lucia, Director of Marketing & Communications, Falck USA
Since the inception of the Youth Career Connections First Responder Academy, two of these career exploration sessions have been held and a total of 80 students have completed the program. “I wanted to gain experience in safety because I want to go into nursing,” said Jasmine, one of the student participants. “I’m looking into what it takes to be a nurse and helping people is definitely one aspect.”
Each career exploration session took place over two days and was held at Falck’s training facilities where students learned about:
- Stop the Bleed
- Hands-only CPR
- Blood Pressure
- Common Calls for First Responders
- EMT Mindset
Students also went on a ride-along job shadowing experience where they watched first responders answering emergencies in real time, networked with EMTs, and witnessed firefighters, local police officers, and emergency room staff provide patients with life-saving emergency medical services.
The partnership proved to be a positive and rewarding experience for everyone involved—on one ride along, a student was even able to help the EMT crew out by translating for a patient who couldn’t speak English. “I loved seeing the students engaged and hope some of them decide to come work at Falck in the future,” said Nisha. “We would love to have them.”
If you’re interested in giving back to your community, don’t limit yourself. Be open and get creative. Maybe a donation or internship isn’t right for your company. Instead, look for a way that fits your purpose and your mission. —Nisha Verma, Senior Legal Counsel, Falck Mobile Health
Empowered by Orange County United Way’s United for Student Success℠ initiative, Youth Career Connections is an integrated work-based learning program that infuses classroom learning with real-world career experiences. “We are so grateful to Falck Mobile Health for its commitment to local student success and for taking an innovative approach to support our community’s underserved youth,” said Yahaira Ortiz, Senior Program Manager, United for Student Success. “Providing hands-on experiences, exposing students to various career paths, and connecting them directly to employers is exactly what Youth Career Connections is all about.”
Beyond the benefit of supporting students, your company will also be positively impacted. These are the people who will inherit our world, and they bring an enthusiasm and a fresh perspective. —Jeff Lucia, Director of Marketing & Communications, Falck USA
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