I was baffled this past week to learn that the EMT program is being cancelled at Hoboken High School by Superintendent Mr. Toback. His excuse was that there are less than 30 students in the class. To enlighten Mr. Toback there has never been more than 8 to 10 students in that class at any one time since its inception back in 2002. I don’t know if Mr. Toback or any of the Board of Education members ever attended an EMT class to see the intensity of the work that is expected of these students. Having any number more than 10 to 12 without some assistance is difficult especially when it comes to the hands on sessions. These students are preparing to save a life at some point and need to be proficient in what they are doing and therefore need a lot of attention.
The EMT program came about from two Hoboken High School students Michele and Helen back in 2001 when 911 occurred. These two students were a part of a group called Serve America whose moderator was a former teacher Mr. Joseph Meli. He took the girls and the Serve America group to the PATH Station to assist giving out water to those coming back from New York and where ever they could assist. When they came back they asked him if they can formulate a group of volunteers to serve that specific purpose if a disaster ever occurred again. Mr. Meli contacted me because I worked as the Health Teacher and Athletic Trainer and we tossed around some ideas.
We then had the idea to make it more feasible for the students and spoke to Mr. Tom Molta President of the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps to combine our program with his and as the students became EMTs they would be servicing the ambulance as a feeder program. Eventually when Mr. Meli retired he turned the program over to Mrs. Alberto-Kolmar and it has continued to flourish. The program is recognized as the first EMT program in the nation for high school students especially that we have our own ambulances and respond to calls. We became the model program for several states that Mr. Meli was invited to speak.
I truly hope that this isn’t politics at its best because with this cut the only ones who are being hurt are the students and the Hoboken Ambulance. Not everyone is going to go on to college and this is another avenue for students to look at after graduation. Some who may go on to college maybe missing out on a chance to experience what the medical field is actually like. The number of six to eight in an EMT class especially for high school is an ideal number. Yet, there are two AP classes at the high school that presently have only 4 students each and I am sure that there are less than 30 in other classes.
Sal Manente; ATL
Athletic Trainer/ Ret. Hoboken Educator