Students training to be paramedics and emergency medical technicians will be able to practice lifesaving skills in real-life scenarios this fall as Pikes Peak Community College moves its paramedic program and part of its EMT program into the new UCHealth Memorial Hospital Community Education Center.

The move from PPCC’s Creekside Success Center to the Community Education Center at 2050 Kidskare Point will enable PPCC to work more closely with UCHealth Memorial to address the paramedic shortage in Colorado Springs and surrounding communities.

“The new, state-of-the art education center is a place where future first responders can be trained in the latest advances in medicine and medical technology,” said Joel Yuhas, president and CEO of UCHealth Memorial. “We are thrilled to partner with PPCC to help advance and grow their Paramedic program.”

The Community Education Center opened in December; classes begin there this fall.

UCHealth Memorial’s Community Education Center will train EMT and paramedic students.

Yuhas said the new facility will help address what health care leaders say is a critical shortage of first responders in the Pikes Peak region.

“The EMS profession is a hybrid of health care and public safety, both which suffer from long-term workforce shortages,” said Jeffery Force, UCHealth Memorial’s Director of Emergency Medical Services. “It isn’t too surprising, then, that EMS is also in need of significantly more highly trained professionals than are currently available.

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Both UCHealth and PPCC have excellent EMS programs that have been trying to fill that need, but the demand has always been greater than the supply, Force said.

“We feel that by working collaboratively, by pooling our resources and expertise, we will be able to provide a greater number of more highly trained EMS providers than we have been able to do separately,” he said.

The scope of what paramedics are being called on to do “constantly expands as our health care system looks for new and innovative ways to provide high-quality patient care that results in better patient outcomes with higher patient satisfaction scores,” Force said. “In response to this, UCHealth and PPCC are working collaboratively on creating educational programs that will include courses of study in Critical Care, Community Paramedic and Expanded Scope Paramedicine — all of which will drive the EMS profession forward.”

As the only Level I trauma center in southern Colorado, “UCHealth Memorial is committed to partnerships like these, which underscore our leadership role in the community,” Yuhas said.

“As one of the two primary educational programs developing health care workers in the community, PPCC has a responsibility to address industry needs in the region,” PPCC President Lance Bolton said. “EMS programs at PPCC are highly rigorous and highly competitive. PPCC Paramedic students have a 100 percent first-attempt pass rate on the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam and a 94.7 percent job placement rate.”

The Community Education Center opened in December and offers a wide range of training for first responders. Trauma physicians and nurses also will train at the new center.

The move is made possible by a partnership between UCHealth, the PPCC Foundation and Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (through a COSI workforce development matching scholarship grant).

The Community Education Center features a simulation lab with high-tech mannequins that help in health care training.

PPCC will dedicate $91,885, including Perkins grant funds as possible. The PPCC Foundation has received a matching grant of $140,000 for nursing and allied health (including for-credit EMS and paramedic) scholarships from the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI).

UCHealth Memorial Hospital has provided a grant to the PPCC Foundation for $250,000 to fund this move and provide scholarships to nursing and paramedic students.

In fall 2018 and spring 2019, 20 EMT and Paramedic students will be funded by scholarships. The scholarships will have a big impact locally and in rural southern Colorado communities. The scholarships will help rural agencies fund advanced training for their personnel and increase their capacity to provide advanced life support in their communities.

In addition to classrooms used for various training, UCHealth’s Community Education Center houses a mock apartment that is used to mirror real-life call scenarios.

There is also space to park wrecked cars so first responders can learn how to extricate patients injured in motor vehicle accidents.

In addition, UCHealth Memorial’s new helicopter — LifeLine — can land at the training center so students can learn how to care for patients when they need to travel by air.

The center also includes a simulation center with state-of-the art electronic mannequins that enable health care providers to keep skills sharp and gain new knowledge to provide patients with exemplary care.