Monroe County will allot $4.2 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for an innovative program to help combat the shortage of emergency medical personnel by training 160 candidates over the next four years.
The program, developed by Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance, will actively recruit candidates, particularly from traditionally underserved communities, then provide comprehensive instruction at Monroe Community College.
ARPA funding will cover tuition, fees, books and supplies, paid training time, day care, transportation, as well as additional educational supports that may be required.
The investment will be spread over four years. Each year there will be one 20-student EMT cohort tracking to earn an associate’s degree, and one 20-student paramedic cohort.
“Our EMS providers are grappling with a crisis: a workforce shortage and declining pipeline of EMT and paramedic candidates,” County Executive Adam Bello said in a news release. “This is out-of-the-box thinking that channels ARPA dollars in a creative way to address our community’s most pressing public heath and safety needs, and makes truly transformative change.”
Earlier this year, Bello asked emergency service providers to apply for ARPA funding for recruiting and retention efforts. Under the request for proposals, agencies were required to offer solutions to workforce development, support and retain public sector workers, and improve the delivery of key services affecting public heath.
The Pittsford plan calls for training 160 community members over four years, enabling them to work for any EMS agency within Monroe County upon completion of the course work.
“Historically, EMT classes have been offered in formats that do not align well with recruitment and development of new EMTs,” Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance Chief Jonathan Smith said. “These dollars will help us attract candidates that may have previously overlooked a career in EMS because the educational requirements conflicted with other work or family commitments.
“By paying candidates to attend an EMT course and covering their educational costs, we hope to help potential candidates balance their personal lives with their career aspirations. This funding is an investment in the existing EMS system that empowers us to break down barriers and partner with people throughout Monroe County who want to care for their communities.”
As an example of need for EMS responders, Perinton Ambulance received 5,954 calls for service in 2022.
State Sen. Samra Brouck and Assemblymember Jen Lunsford helped secure $575,000 in grants to enable Perinton Ambulance to purchase two new ambulances, a new gurney and power load system and other critical-care equipment.
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