A St. Paul fire station is being renamed for a historic program that trained underemployed black men and women in Pittsburgh as medical technicians.

Fire Station 51, formerly called "Emergency" after a TV series, will now be called "Freedom House."

In 1967 a black ambulance driver named Phillip Hallen came up with the idea of combining ambulance service with medical technicians. The Freedom House Paramedics were born, according to the St. Paul Fire Department.

They were the country's first mobile paramedics responding to public calls for medical help.

Fire Station 51 is the site of the city's Emergency Medical Services Academy. The program certifies low-income St. Paul residents from ages 18 to 24 as emergency medical technicians, focusing on diversity.

"It just seemed like the story of the Freedom House mirrored the mission of the academy," said Alex Dumke, spokesman for the city's Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity.

The program has graduated 73 students, including 20 students who will graduate Monday night. Of those, 57 percent are women, 47 percent are black, 17 percent are American Indian, 13 percent are Latino/Hispanic, 10 percent are multi-racial, 7 percent are white and 6 percent are Southeast Asian or Pacific Islanders.

A renaming ceremony will be held from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday at 296 W. 7th St. Related events include:

• A screening of a documentary about the Freedom House and a discussion, from 4:45 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at Macalester College Campus Center, 1600 Grand Av.

• Documentary screening from noon to 3 p.m. Monday at Inver Hills Community College, 2500 80th St. E., Inver Grove Heights.

• EMS Academy graduation, 6 p.m. Monday at the Dayton's Bluff Recreation Center, 800 Conway St.

• Documentary screening from 3:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Wellstone Center/Neighborhood House, 179 Robie St. E.