Program History


In 1976, Spring Lake Park became the first high school in the nation to provide Emergency Medical Services training.  As a result of a Title III grant, the Opportunities in Emergency Health Care Program started training high school students to become Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s).  In spite of protests by doubters whom believed that high school students were not ready for EMT training, the OEC program was born.  By 1978, OEC had its first licensed Basic Life Support ambulance, taking emergency calls and scheduled transfers right out of the program office, adjacent to the classroom.

In those days, it was common to take students out of class to ride-along on the calls.  By 1982, a second ambulance was licensed and put to work on the street.  An incredibly successful pipeline from classroom to street was initiated.  Talk about a “School-to-Work” opportunity!  This tenet of 21st century education was happening over 20 years ago in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota.  In addition, OEC has drawn students from as many as ten different surrounding high schools as a magnet program since its inception.

Spring Lake Park is a suburb of Minneapolis, 12 miles north of downtown.  The high school is the crown jewel of the Spring Lake Park School District, which has led the way in innovative education for many years.

Since 1976, it has been estimated over 1500 students have been trained as EMT’s.  Hundreds of graduates have continued careers in the field of health care.  OEC is not just about quantity, its about quality!