iluna@valleytowncrier.com

RIO GRANDE VALLEY/PHARR - Telecommunications company AT&T donated $101,570.00 to South Texas’ College first responders pilot program. The program is housed at the Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence (RCPSE) facility in Pharr where 80 low-income students have the opportunity to earn or re-certify a first responder certification.

The pilot program stems from a high demand for skilled first responders - a program now offered by STC that reinvests in its students with the help of local officials.

“The city of Pharr will always stand by you,” said Pharr Mayor, Dr. Ambrosio "Amos" Hernandez. “We’re always going to be here with you, we’re always going to be growing with you. The bigger you grow, the better off we’re gonna be.”

Due to the generous grant by AT&T, expenses for first responder certifications, tuition, assessments, job placement and background checks will be paid for. Forty first-time first responders enrolled in the program will receive 128 hours of training through the Emergency Medical Technology (EMT) program and 40 more individuals needing re-certification.

There are requirements for STC’s first responder pilot program:

-Must be 18 years or older

-Must live in one of the five participating cities

1.Edinburg

2.McAllen

3.Weslaco

4.Mission

5.Pharr

-Must have a high school diploma

“The contribution that we are announcing from AT&T to South Texas College underscores AT&T’s commitment to helping all students achieve their dreams,” said Leslie Ward, AT&T Texas president.

The mobile network’s pairing with First Net will provide extensive communication. First Net is a nationwide public safety broadband network with AT&T created by the U.S. government after 9/11 when communication between first responders was insufficient.

“This is a much-needed investment in our countries communications infrastructure to support millions of first responders and public safety personnel to protect and serve more than 320- million people nationwide,” Ward said.

Additionally, South Texas’ College Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence (RCPSE) has trained over 1,400 law enforcement officers under RCPSE interim chief administrator, Sgt. Jose Morales in 2019.

Training for the program will officially begin on February 3, 2020.