Turning Out EMTs at Eastern High

Bobbi and Alyssa check anchor Wisdom Martin’s blood pressure at the Fox 5 Zip Trip highlighting Eastern Market. Photo: Chief Julius D. Jackson, NREMT

A group of seniors from Eastern High School wait patiently for the final fitting of their Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Student uniform. This occasion is significant as it marks a crucial step in their journey toward EMT licensure—clinical rotations. EMT Student uniforms are an industry requirement for working on an ambulance, a challenge that students are literally gearing up to in the coming months.

American Medical Response, Capitol Region (AMR) has established an employment pipeline with Eastern Academy of Health Sciences (EAHS), a Career Technical Education program within Eastern that’s now designated by DC Health as an EMS Educational Institution. Eastern’s EMS Program is on equal standing with other local and national postsecondary Allied Health career education programs.

This allows seniors who pass the course to sit for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) national certification exam. Those who pass can become licensed and begin working as an EMT. AMR will host “ride-along” experiences so that students can meet the clinical requirement for patient contacts.

The program is the result of a community-wide effort over many years and the advocacy of a variety of stakeholders. Our major partners include Eastern’s parents, staff, and Business Advisory Council; Companies for Causes; MedStar Health; DC Fire and EMS Department; Life Star Response; GW Medical Faculty Associates; Westlink Career Institute, the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters, and the Boy Scouts of America National Capitol Area Council. (EAHS students provide 24-hour first aid at DC Scout Camporees.)

Through the combined efforts of the DCPS College and Career division and the Office of the State Superintendent, the existing Health and Medical Sciences Academy at Eastern was elevated to a NAF Academy, and rebranded as the Eastern Academy of Health Sciences. NAF (formerly National Academy Foundation), provides career-technical education programs in the District with an educational framework that ensures students receive a relevant and exceptional learning experience in the career path.

Students who opt into the Academy commit to various requirements for career readiness. In addition to the regular sciences courses required to graduate, students must take a Project Lead the Way medical elective each year. Courses are engaging, project-based, and use the Modern Classrooms structure of blended learning to integrate technological literacy into everyday learning.

EAHS students Elisa, Jahnay, and Demitri learn how to ready a first response truck for service at the Brentwood Volunteer Fire Dept. Photo: Chief Julius D. Jackson, NREMT

Paid Internships and Service Learning
Paid medical internships are another essential expectation of the academy. Students undergo a rigorous process before they’re placed in their hospital summer internship. They must participate in mock interviews and complete the employability skills and character development curriculum developed by DCPS. Eastern has a special partnership with MedStar Washington Hospital Center, originally established by Ward 6’s Joe Weedon and Tom Raffa’s Companies for Causes. Sophomore Damiyah Brown has found the preparation for the internship invaluable. “The Academy instills traits that students need for success, such as punctuality and leadership. We’re provided support and guidance for our futures,” she said.

Service learning is another major part of the Academy’s identity. Look around at Capitol Hill’s 4th of July Parade, Eastern Market’s Hilloween, or Barracks Row Fall Festival and you’ll see Academy students administering free blood pressure readings and demonstrating hands-only CPR.

Another key component of EAHS is enrichment. Field trips range from visiting the infectious diseases exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to observing a live thoracic surgery at GW Hospital. Said 11th grader William Harris, “The academy opened me up to things I’d never thought I would experience.” Students attend bi-monthly Lunch and Learns where professionals in the community come to discuss their journey to their career or a topic that aligns to the course curriculum. These sessions often lead to shadowing opportunities for students. Currently, there’s a line of students excited to shadow veterinarian Dr. Matt at H Street’s AtlasVet. These unique offerings build a sense of community among students, even across grade levels. Sophomore Emmanuela Moudga Adiwa explains, “The Academy is structured in a way where everyone’s needs are met. It made me understand the importance of professionalism and good conduct.”

Elisa Vizcarrando, one of the seniors lined up to get it her uniform in order to take her test in June, sums up her experience. “These four years in the academy have overall taught me the importance of health care. No matter how much the world evolves, health care will always be needed,” she said. “My experience in the academy has helped me understand and know what I want in life by teaching me the importance of teamwork, patience, stability, good communication skills, most important of all, passion.”

The current global public health emergency underscores the vital need for health care professionals and health scientists. Our students are studying today so that they’ll be in a position to save our tomorrows.

For more information, or to request blood pressure screening at your event, please contact Eastern Academy of Health Sciences Director Regina McClure at regina.mcclure@k12.dc.gov.