DENVER — Second lady Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, may be the nation’s No. 1 supporter of community colleges.
While visiting Tuesday, she took an extended tour of Community College of Aurora’s Lowry campus, visiting the school’s extensive emergency-medical-services training area and biotechnology labs.
“Community colleges are the way of the future,” she said in an interview with The Denver Post. “You’ll see their enrollments are rising dramatically, particularly when the economy is down. They’re affordable, they give very good retraining to people who are out of work. “
Biden said Delaware Technical & Community College, where she used to teach, logged a 30 percent increase in enrollment this year. Enrollment is up about the same amount at Northern Virginia Community College, where she now teaches English as a second language and developmental English for foreign professionals.
After watching EMS faculty and students respond to a simulated heart attack in the school’s mock street scene, Biden told the group, “I’ve taught many EMTs, firemen, police cadets and nurses. You all play such a vital role in our communities.
“In fact, we had a fire in our house four years ago. As we were running around in a panic, one of the firefighters waved and yelled at me, ‘Mrs. Biden, I’m Harry, remember me from your class?”‘
College president Linda Bowman said the school developed the emergency-responder simulation training four years ago, when the faculty perceived a rising demand.
The school built a life-size apartment, complete with a front door, thresholds and other “tripping hazards,” table lamps that tip over and all sorts of other things that can impede an ambulance crew responding to a scene.
The school has real ambulances, one of which rocks and rolls simulating traffic conditions for EMTs treating someone inside.
Biden cheerfully climbed inside to visit with Don, the mannequin they were treating for the simulated heart attack.
“We’re always trying to give more relevance to the curriculum,” said Bowman, adding that the college’s enrollment is up 10 percent this year.