SHCTC's Homeland Security Program Marks Five-Year Anniversary

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Seneca Highlands Career and Technical Center (SHCTC) launches emergency services program for four counties in north central Pennsylvania.

In January 2016, Fire Chief Dana Spitler contacted James Young, director of Seneca Highlands Career and Technical Center (SHCTC), to discuss the formation of an emergency service program. Partnering with Carol Duffy, county commissioner, this led to the establishment of an Occupational Advisory Committee that worked tirelessly to support the development of a high school program that would serve four counties in North Central Pennsylvania. Today, we are proud to announce that the program has been successfully launched and is currently in operation.

The program, which was launched for the 2018–2019 school year, has been a successful endeavor thanks to the unique process and tenacity of the committee members. The committee sought funding from municipalities, foundations, and community organizations resulting in enough funds to launch the program. Currently, 23 municipalities have made financial commitments to support the program while fire departments, non-profits, foundations, and companies have committed to five years of financial support to pilot the program.

In addition to serving 44 students on a rotating yearly basis for three consecutive years, the emergency service program has also set a goal to recruit 75 potential trained volunteers over a five-year period to serve in McKean, Potter, and Cameron Counties.

The program has already achieved significant outcomes, including the development of a permanent training and certification program at the Seneca Highlands Career Technology Center, serving four counties. The program has a strong focus on providing students with the necessary skills and certifications to pursue a career in emergency services. Over the first five years of the program, there will be 75 students who will graduate from the program prepared for career paths in fields such as homeland security, law enforcement, firefighting and related protective services, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, first-line supervisors, protective service workers, police and sheriff’s patrol officers, security and crossing guards, lifeguards, ski patrol and other recreational protective service workers, transportation security screeners, and protective service workers.

The success of the program is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Occupational Advisory Committee, the Essential Emergency Support Training Committee, and the leadership of Mr. James Young, director of the Seneca Highlands Career and Technical Center. The program's focus on developing a sustainable and long-term approach to emergency service training and certification has ensured that students have the necessary skills to serve their communities in times of need. With continued community support and funding, the program is poised for continued success, producing graduates who will be prepared for a range of careers in the emergency services sector.

Under the current direction of Mr. Young beginning in 2012, there have been a number of program changes/additions that have proven to be successful endeavors. When Alex Johnson was hired to instruct the homeland security program in 2018, he brought with him the majority of certifications required to teach the program of study and high valued industry recognized certifications. His knowledge and skill set has been an asset to the program and has contributed to its success.

The program’s success has been made possible through the hard work and collaboration of various entities, including 23 municipalities, fire departments, non-profits, foundations, and companies. The program has brought together individuals interested in helping local rural emergency services be better prepared to serve communities. The committee has secured funding and launched the program with long-term goals to ensure sustainability. As the program progresses, it will continue to seek funding to provide the best opportunities for students and ensure longevity. With the support of the community, the program will continue to serve as a valuable resource for emergency services in north central Pennsylvania.

Moving out towards the fifth year, there is an expectation that the ten districts who own the career and technical center will develop a budget that will include delivery of the homeland security program of study. SHCTC, which has delivered quality technical programs since 1979, will continue to deliver this program and others with the required certified staff.

The program has been developed to ensure longevity, and the outcomes are impressive. As the program progresses beyond the fundamentals, higher level certifications will be earned requiring additional funds.

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