Innovative Program Combines On-the-Job Experience with Classroom Training for EMTs to Become Paramedics

A recent $1 million award from the High Road Training Partnership (HRTP) allows the Workforce Development Board of Contra Costa County (WDBCCC) to expand an innovative job program designed to achieve equity for more people in Contra Costa County’s underserved communities. The Paramedic 4 Equity (P4E) program allows emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to train to become paramedics while earning a paycheck.

“EMTs can earn $22 to $25 per hour with only a few months of training, which is outstanding,” said Jed Silver, WDBCCC program manager. However, paramedic pay ranges from $35 to $70 per hour. “Before P4E, if EMTs wanted to become paramedics, they had to find training on their own and take time away from work for several years. P4E reduces barriers to training and work, allowing prospective paramedics to learn while on the job.”

Three-year funding from HRTP allows the initiative to train working EMTs to become paramedics. Participants are paid for a 40-hour work week, with 13 of those hours dedicated to the required paramedic classroom training.

“Our goal at the conclusion of the program’s third year is to have produced 50 licensed paramedics with at least 10 of them pursuing advanced training in other in-demand allied health careers, such as nursing or behavioral health,” said Silver. Additionally, this program seeks to draw candidates from underserved communities, better reflecting the diversity of communities they serve.

The WDBCCC funds an existing EMT training program through Contra Costa College and Mt. Diablo Adult Education. American Medical Response (AMR), an emergency medical services organization, often hires these and licensed EMTs. Apprenticeship participants can feed into P4E through this EMT training or as existing EMTs.

HRTP provides the means to add training facilities and employers. The WDBCCC seeks to add one local educational agency (LEA) to the program each year for a total of three. To reach people in the initiative’s target population, LEAs will be in the county’s most underserved communities.

While AMR has already signed on to pilot the program and accept paramedic apprentices, HRTP enables more employers to participate, including hospitals, clinics and government agencies. In addition to providing funding for on-the-job training, the WDBCCC covers tasks usually handled by employers, such as screening and immunizations. The program also funds a stipend and life coaching to help ensure participant success.

HRTP also allows for enhanced worker voice, a key element to producing an effective and sustainable initiative. “This is a unique program feature,” Silver said. “It’s not enough to get people jobs, but we have to ensure an apprentice-employer partnership that provides fair treatment. Silver said the WDBCCC is partnering with worker voice experts at SEIU-UHW Joint Employer Education Fund for this portion of the program.

“Paramedic 4 Equity is a direct reflection of the WDBCCC’s strategic priorities for this year,” said executive Director Tamia Brown.

The organization’s priorities in fiscal year 2022-2023 are:

  • Creation and expansion of “earn and learn” models.
  • Addressing and serving the most vulnerable populations and communities in the county.
  • Development of a community business resource center focusing on small, minority and micro businesses.
  • Incorporation of race, equity, diversity and inclusion (REDI) principles in all business outreach strategies.

Bob Redlo, WDBCCC regional health coordinator, has been integral to the program’s development.

To learn more about Paramedic 4 Equity, contact Jed Silver at

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