Responding to guidance from state officials directing crucial first-responder training programs to continue, Palomar College will reopen several programs dedicated to meeting the demand for public safety personnel.
The Palomar College Police and Fire Academies will recommence face-to-face instruction in May, following strict precautions, as will the Paramedic Training and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) programs.
“As we resume training to support the region’s needs for trained personnel in these essential occupations, the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff remains our top priority,” said Acting Superintendent/President Dr. Jack Kahn. “We will continue to take every precaution as our fire and police academies and Paramedic and EMT training programs continue the essential work of preparing first responders.”
The college is following all protocols set forth by CDC, state and county health officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and will continue to strictly limit nonessential personnel at the main campus and Escondido Education Center.
Recent guidance from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office stated, “We strongly recommend that colleges work to sustain courses that directly support the essential infrastructure sectors, especially healthcare and first responders.”
Similarly, under Executive Order N-33-20, California Governor Gavin Newsom highlighted the importance of “workers and instructors supporting academies and training facilities and courses for the purpose of graduating students and cadets.”
The State Fire Marshal and the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)—the accrediting agencies for Palomar’s fire and police programs—have affirmed the college’s plans to continue face-to-face instruction.
The California Emergency Medical Authority recently issued several revised policy changes that approve the use of fidelity simulation, scenarios, and other innovative educational environments as substitutes for the clinical and field internship training for paramedic and EMT training programs. This will allow the two Palomar programs to complete their training-in-progress this spring and summer.
“The decision to reopen these programs was made with great consideration for the state of emergency we currently face, and the ongoing need for front-line public safety personnel,” said Dr. Kahn. “Before recommencing training, we have ensured that we will be able to follow all recommendations to provide a medically safe environment for our students, faculty and staff.”
Palomar’s Police Academy suspended operations on March 19, with the current class in its third week of training. The trainees will resume classroom instruction on May 4, and will meet for two weeks at the Palomar College Police Department building on the main campus, with three additional dates when cadets will be on campus for defensive tactical training. Thereafter, the academy will resume at its usual location off Santar Place.
Starting May 4, each EMT student will complete 10 high fidelity simulations in lieu of 24 hours of clinical patient contacts. On June 1, students in the Paramedic training program will resume completion of lab hours, including the use of simulation equipment. Both programs will be taught at the Escondido Education Center.
The Palomar College Fire Academy is currently providing coursework in a remote format; starting May 18, the program will resume face-to-face instruction at the public safety training center off Santar Place in San Marcos.
Students, instructors and staff will be asked to sign affidavits of willful participation when the academy recommences, and participants will have the ability to opt out and restart their training in 2021, per POST regulations.