Students in Lanier High's Health Services Academy line up to get a first look at a retired ambulance donated to their program by American Medical Response.
Students in Lanier High's Health Services Academy line up to get a first look at a retired ambulance donated to their program by American Medical Response.
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Ambulance gift allows Lanier students to learn medical transport skills

Published on Wednesday, October 3, 2018

By: Ruth Cummins

Lanier High sophomores Jamecia McLaurin and Christopher Washington both take inspiration from a departed aunt in their quest to work in a health services career.

“My aunt who recently passed was a nurse,” said Christopher, 16. “That really got me interested. Now I want to be a nurse practitioner. I’ve always liked helping people. It’s just in my nature.”

Jamecia, 15, said her interest in becoming an emergency medical technician was piqued when her aunt was treated in an emergency situation. She wants people like her aunt to get the help they need when an ambulance or first responder arrives.

They’re among students in Lanier’s Academy of Health Services who will get hands-on training through the donation of a retired ambulance by American Medical Response. The ambulance – not to be driven by students, but instead to be used as a stationary simulation lab – will become the Emergency Medical Services Lab within the academy. 

It will provide an instructional environment that will support a comprehensive approach to teaching and learning, enabling students to practice real-world emergency scenarios and learn medical skills needed for a career in the emergency response or medical transportation fields.

“It can help me out with any good job I want,” Jamecia said.

Passing the ceremonial ambulance key as they celebrate with students are, from left Lanier High National Alumni Association Treasurer Hazel Fields; Dr. Claude Brunson, UMMC senior advisor to the vice chancellor; AMR Public Information Officer Jim Pollard; Lanier High Principal Michael McDonald; JPS Director of Academies Marquita Slater; and JPS Superintendent Errick Greene.

The donation was marked by a Passing of the Keys ceremony today at Lanier, 833 W. Maple St. The Academy of Health Services is one of five that make up the Jackson Public Schools Academies of Jackson. The University of Mississippi School of Nursing collaborates with AMR, JPS and the Lanier High National Alumni Association to support the Academy of Health Services.

“This is a special day for AMR,” said Stan Alford, AMR’s operations manager. “Over the years, we’ve donated several retired ambulances to fire, rescue and law enforcement agencies for a variety of uses, but this is the first time we’ve donated an ambulance to a school district.

“There are a great many career opportunities in the medical transportation field, and we hope students in programs such as Lanier’s will go on to enter our profession.”

“This represents more than just the passing of the keys,” said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. “This is the passing of opportunity, and of breaking down the walls of the classroom.”

American Medical Response has donated a fully functional but retired ambulance to Lanier High's Health Services Academy.

The collaboration is a powerful testament to the commitment shown to Lanier students and future leaders who will pass through the school, district administrators say.

“I’m excited to see us doing something a little different,” said new Jackson district Superintendent Dr. Errick Greene. “This might just spark in (academy students) a little excitement.

“This partnership with UMMC is pretty remarkable,” Greene said. “This warms my heart. This could change the trajectory of these young people’s lives.”

UMMC is invested in the district’s students in part “because health care is the largest employer in the nation,” said Dr. Claude Brunson, senior advisor to UMMC Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Dr. LouAnn Woodward. The School of Nursing since 2015 has staffed a full-time Teen Wellness Clinic at Lanier, in partnership with UMMC and the school district, to give primary care and health education to students.

Lanier High students Breana Johnson, left, and Clarissa Keys inspect a retired AMR ambulance that has been donated to their school.

Those in the Health Services Academy “can be certified as an emergency responder by the time they graduate high school,” Brunson said.

“Our school sits in the heart of the governor’s medical corridor for our state,” Hazel Shields, National Alumni Association treasurer, said of Lanier, established in 1925 and the city’s oldest African-American high school.

“Our students have the opportunity to prepare for careers that are within their reach.”