A newsmaker you should know: Paramedics play significant role for CCAC executive
With his work building the new paramedic
program for the Community College of Allegheny County Boyce campus, Richard L.
Allison, 59, of Point Breeze said his career and life have come full circle.
His point of departure dates back to 1978, when he and much of his
family attended a picnic at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Derry, where
he grew up. In a helicopter mishap that crash landed on the church parking lot,
his mother Mary Lou, was one of eight people killed. His aunt, Ruth Urdzik, was
also "significantly injured."
"At the time, Derry didn't have an
ambulance service, and borough council realized it needed one after the
accident," said Mr. Allison, dean of academic affairs and coordinating dean of
allied health for CCAC. "Whether by fate or accident, I was on the borough
council at the time, and the council appointed me to serve on the Ambulance
Association, where I was elected president for two years."
years into the future, when Mr. Allison recently headed a CCAC team that
transformed the college's noncredit paramedic program to a credit-bearing
certification and degree program. The program will be located at the Boyce
campus with a state-of-the-art science laboratory.
"About a year
ago, CCAC discovered the paramedic profession was increasing the level of
educational preparation needed for a career in the field," Mr. Allison said.
"The implications for CCAC was to take its noncredit program and develop it
into a credit program."
The team -- Mr. Allison; Lillian Briola,
allied health department head; Jill Oblak, director of the Public Safety
Institute; and Neil Jones, director of emergency medical services -- spent
months in meetings and curriculum planning sessions before taking the revamped
program before the college governance board for approval.
work on the new program, Mr. Allison received the EMS Champion Award for
"significant contributions to the health and safety of the residents and
visitors to Allegheny County" at the 36th annual meeting of the Allegheny
County Emergency Medical Services Council, held in June at Heinz Field. On Aug.
20, Allegheny County Council recognized Mr. Allison with a proclamation in his
honor at its regular meeting of council.
"I find it very
coincidental that I had an association with EMS in Derry in 1978, near the
beginning of my career, and find myself involved with another EMS initiative 35
years later," he said.
Since joining the CCAC faculty in 1982, Mr.
Allison has served in the college's administration, holding 10 administrative
positions of ever-increasing responsibility.
"During my 30 years at
CCAC, I've enjoyed the advantage of being able work for a college with a
current enrollment of around 15,000 students that makes affordable education
accessible to many people in the region," he said. "During that time, I've
added eight to 10 allied health programs to the CCAC curriculum. I find
starting a new program particularly exciting, especially when I get to see the
first students graduate."
Highlights of his career include serving as
president of the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association in the
mid-1980s, developing the first associate degree in the country for
electricians and serving as the first dean of the then newly opened CCAC Center
in Washington at the Washington Crown Center.
In addition to his
accomplishments at CCAC, Mr. Allison works with a number of civic and community
organizations, particularly those impacting the Gay and Lesbian Community of
Pittsburgh. As the former chair of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, he was
instrumental in securing the funds needed to relocate and expand the center to
its current Downtown location at 210 Grant St. Additionally, he is chair of the
OUTrageous Bingo Steering Committee, where he is credited with having raised
more than $500,000 for the center and the Shepherd Wellness Community.
In recognition of his professional and personal accomplishments, he has been
the recipient of numerous awards, including the Gay and Lesbian Community
Center of Pittsburgh's "Years of Service Award" (2010); the Gay and Lesbian
Community All-Star Organization's "The Shining All-Star Award" (2009); the
Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association's "Award of Outstanding
Achievement" (1987) and the United Way of Allegheny County's "Good Neighbor
Award," presented in 1998.
"I first came out professionally as a gay
man in 1982, and in the long-run it has had no effect on my career," he said.
"I feel that the more people who come out of the closet the better, not only
for the gay community, but for everyone because there are no secrets and people
should be accepted for who they are. There are gay people in every walk of
life. They're among most people's families and friends, they are their
neighbors as well as their teachers, ministers, paramedics and other
first-responders who save lives every day."
freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.