EMS Education Tips

EMS Academy for Minnesota High School Students

This is a guest post by Paul Wilson. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
Opportunities in Emergency Health Care

The EMS side of my health care academy in Minneapolis is a start-up program that follows a model called Opportunities in Emergency Health Care (OEC) that has been going at Spring Lake Park High School for over 30 years and Osseo High School for 20 years. It was started by Joe Grafft and now is run by Bill Neiss at SLP and Gary Leafblad and David Casella at Osseo.

OEC starts with First aid and CPR but then steps students through First Responder, CPR Instructor, and EMT. They have wonderful fall and spring 5-day camps (in Amery, WI) that involves EMS professionals and alumni to teach hands on classes, professionalism, teamwork, and scenarios. The Fall class has large MCIs simulations and the Spring class has ambulance runs. Beyond camp, students are given opportunities to participate in moulaging patients, assisting with CPR/first aid classes, and providing medical coverage at sporting events.

Rescue and Emergency Care Competition

Another major program is our state competition that takes place in February. This year we had 28 teams from three programs compete. Teams of four students completed three scenarios and a first responder level written test. The scenarios are not heavily moulaged or acted out, but they have very specific judging criteria that matches the standards of International Rescue and Emergency Care Association.

Hands-On Opportunities

In the summer OEC provides medical transport and treatment at a major soccer tournament and Anoka County Fair. Transport at the cup uses 7 golf carts that have been modified to hold a backboard. This is a great event to get our EMT graduates into as it is a 10 day mini ambulance service experience that gives hands on, real experience they would not otherwise get. The clinic for the event is staffed by U of M students in their sports medicine rotation.

Minnesota Transitions High School

I have attempted to start a similar program at Minnesota Transitions High School (MTS) but have run into many of the same problems described by David Page in the EMSEduCast Episode 29 about the St. Paul EMS Academy. I work with inner city youth and all the problems that entails. I am not paying my students and we are located in a school. Attendance is terrible and the outside opportunities are rarely taken advantage of. I try to get my students to go to at least ONE day of the 5 day camp and that is almost impossible to get the students to do so. I am moving to a more online based First aid/CPR/First Responder course as I get students who are all at different parts of the book. I then float to each, answering questions and reiterating major points in the section they are in. Students are pulled from that work for skill demonstrations or practice that may not match what they are currently looking at in the book.

The nursing assistant side of the health care academy was a more established program and is tied into those social workers and daycare issues Mr. Page discussed. Despite these challenges, we regularly have 90% of students pass the state nursing assistant test. It is successful, in part, because we teach the three-week nursing assistant class in five weeks. We also give a lot of support to get these students trained for a job that will hopefully be attainable.

This class is offered in cooperation with a Junior College, American Indian OIC ( Through AIOIC, we are expanding the program to other schools and plan to also expand our EMS classes there.

Connecting with Other Youth Training Programs

I am interested in connecting with other youth training programs for a couple of reasons.

  1. Youth EMS educator network: There are not a lot of us around.  It would be great to connect and share challenges and ideas. I was lucky to have a successful program to model my program after. I think many instructors that start working with youth try to do what works with adults have difficulty and could use connections with other instructors.
  2. Master’s degree thesis: I am looking to compile “best practices” for working with youth. If someone was going to try to do this on their own it would be great to have a “how to” guide made up. If I can find programs that teach youth and survey them on their instructional methods I can use this to write my thesis.
  3. Promote competition: I am a huge advocate of authentic assessment through scenarios.  Our Minnesota state competition and IRECA competitions are great problem based learning projects that hone our EMS and teamwork skills.

Paul Wilson is a volunteer firefighter/investigator for the city of Maple Grove, Minnesota. He is an EMT-B and has worked with Osseo teaching in the OEC program for 2 years while obtaining a high school teaching license. He began a teaching job that was health care related in September 2008 at MTS. You can contact Paul at or on Twitter @paulwilson7


By Dave Konig

Dave is an EMS provider based in New York City for over 20 years and has been blogging for over 10 years. He is experienced in all facets of EMS Service Management, Emergency Management, and specializes in Event Medical Services. He maintains a blog at, is an Columnist, and will be authoring on all things social (including Social Media) here at The Social Medic.