TUCSON, Ariz. — A shortage of first responders continues throughout the nation, and Pima County is no exception.
To help address the issue, 50 high school students got a chance to explore the field this summer. On Wednesday, they graduated from the First Responder Academy.
On critical on calls like severe medical issues, getting caught in a flash flood, armed robberies -- industry shortages could cause delays in getting the help you need.
Now, those 50 students may soon be responding to emergencies -- like Reyanna Robles, who urged fellow students to not be afraid to take success head-on.
"We're going to go into a career not only having a leg up -- we're having a really big leg up," she said. "We're going to go in ready."
By the end of the month-long, half-day academy, the students earned certifications in basic first aid, CPR, and OSHA 10 workplace safety and are now familiar with equipment and professionals in the field.
They also earned one full credit from Pima Community College.
Academic Dean Amanda Abens hopes students consider careers in law enforcement, medical services and law.
"We need to make sure more youth like you have an opportunity like this," she said. "We need to commit."
Abens says most people will need first responders as she did, twice regarding her son just last month.
"I wasn't with him, talking to that first responder who calmed me down and who I know was taking care of my son and knew everything was going to be okay," she said.
Students told academy officials they are clearer on their potential career path and that their view of law enforcement had changed for the better.
The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Labor and recruits high school juniors and seniors who are less likely to choose a first responder career.