Southwestern College is Home to Two New Ambulances

Jasmine Sierra, a SWC Paramedic student and Martin Gonzalez, the Instructional Lab Coordinator for EMT and Paramedic programs, break in the ambulance with some scenario exercises.
Jasmine Sierra, a SWC Paramedic student, and Martin Gonzalez, the Instructional Lab Coordinator for EMT and Paramedic programs, break in the ambulance with some scenario exercises.

Southwestern College’s paramedics, EMTs and firefighters have a new tool to gain hands-on experience, thanks to a recent donation of two ambulances, one by Priority Ambulance and another from Falck Ambulance.

In a celebration Sept. 4, district and Priority officials explained the impact of the donation.

“We are investing in Southwestern College because we want our first responders to reflect the communities they serve,” said Alan Smith, Priority Ambulance regional president. “Their EMS education is incredibly important for the future of our profession.”

This paramedic and EMT class is the largest and most diverse in a decade, said Director Jason Hums–helping address one of the priorities of the college and the ambulance company.

The college has already outfitted the super-sized ambulance with gear and supplies to give students the most realistic training opportunities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Having an ambulance is a game changer–to be able to go from the dispatch call to dropping off the patient,” said paramedic student Sam Telfer. “With COVID, there have been limited opportunities to do ride alongs.”

Telfer added that this investment into student programs is what makes Southwestern College stand out from other programs.

“I have a massive appreciation for Priority Ambulance, Falck Ambulance and Southwestern College,” Telfer said. “We feel supported and prepared to go into this field, especially in this time of COVID. 

“This program has a reputation of being thorough and tough, but their resources are a game changer.” he said. “We walk out of this program being the best first responders possible.”

Student achievement data supports that statement. The college’s paramedic program has had a 98 percent passing rate or better on the national licensing exam for 30 years. The EMT program has some of the highest passing rates in the region on national exams, as well. 

Dean Silvia Cornejo credits her students’ success to the plethora of resources Southwestern provides its students. 

“Tools like the simulation ambulance and the new Public Safety Training Center are for you and your peers,” Cornejo said. “You are the ones that inspire us. The community needs you.”

The new Public Safety Training Center, under construction at the Otay Mesa campus, is scheduled to open next fall. It will have the only live fire building on a community college campus in this region. It will have an apartment building for first responders to get training in what they will see in the field. It will also have a new vehicle bay to house the program’s equipment–including the ambulance.

The ambulances and the partnerships that bring resources to Southwestern students is a source of pride, said Governing Board President Nora E. Vargas.

“We are so grateful to Priority and Falck Ambulance for this partnership,” Vargas said. “We are so proud of our first responders. This ambulance will really give them the tools to be the best they can be.”