Citizens' Ambulance Service, based in Indiana, has provided simulation equipment to Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Rural Health and Safety.

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics who train for the professions at the institute are using the equipment, valued at $25,000, to help them prepare for real-life scenarios.

“The coursework we offer serves as a pipeline for students going into a variety of areas in healthcare, not only EMS,” said Lou Pesci, director of the Institute for Rural Health and Safety. “It is a building block in the journey for those who go on to complete the EMT and Paramedic programs, or become physician's assistants, occupational therapists, and physical therapists.”

Since the program began in 2015, more than 200 students from throughout the region and neighboring states have been trained at the facility on West Pike Road in White Township.

“The simulation equipment we received from Citizens' Ambulance Service helps in a number of ways, such as identifying patient conditions, simulating cardiac conditions, and enabling students to perform IV starts, intubations, and defibrillations,” said Pesci. “It is the partnerships we have with organizations like Citizens' Ambulance Service that will take us even further.”

The gift and partnership have far-reaching impacts, beyond a regional area. Close to 30 counties in Pennsylvania and several counties in bordering states benefit from the cooperation between Citizens' and Rural Health.

“The partnership Citizens' shares with IUP is longstanding, going back to the inception of Citizens' Ambulance Service with Jerry Esposito,” said BJ Pino, chief operating officer at Citizens' Ambulance Service. “It's more than the hands-on experience students gain. It's about the relationships and hard work behind the equipment we are able to provide. It is a perfect demonstration of community, and how it relates to living and growing in a shared existence.”

“Our cohabitation with the Institute for Rural Health and Safety came from a vision to become an influencer in the region to provide true-life experiences through the development of personal and professional character. There are very few sites like this in the Commonwealth… reinforcing the importance of our partnership with the university. This program provides a vital resource to the community while giving students a path to succeed in life.”

In addition to providing essential experience to students, the donated equipment favorably positions the Paramedic Program for the accreditation process from the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.