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New Long Island Program Pays Students While Training to Become EMTs


11.24.2021

Seven people have graduated from the first Long Island class of "Earn While You Learn," where students get paidwhile training to become an EMT

(Source: Newsday 11.24.21)

A new program on Long Island aims to address a shortage of emergency medical technicians by paying students while they train to become certified EMTs.

The Earn While You Learn program was started in 2018 by Global Medical Response, a Colorado-based medical transportation company. The program condenses what is usually months of costly training into an intensive, 10-week EMT academy where individuals attend class five days a week for eight hours a day and are paid a full-time salary. At the end they take the state exam and if they pass, they become certified EMTs. In exchange, the company requires the individuals to work for them for a year.

The program has already graduated more than 500 EMTs across the country, said Dan Leibowitz, president and CEO of Hunter EMS in Bay Shore, which is owned by Global Medical Response. Last week, the first Long Island-based class of Earn While You Learn graduated.

"It’s a great program for someone who’s in another job and can’t leave their job because they need the income," Leibowitz said.

Graduate Aaron Garcia, 30, of Brooklyn, didn’t believe it when he saw an online ad saying he could get paid for going to school."I thought it was some kind of scam," he said, laughing.

The seven students attended class or went on ambulance ride-alongs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday and were paid $16.50 per hour.

Ed Irizarry, 31, of West Hempstead, said he had always wanted to become an EMT but some obstacle, such as his job in air conditioning and heating, would get in the way.

"With this, I didn’t have to balance that work and school life," he said."This was my job."

Leibowitz said the program was created as a pipeline for the company which has been desperately looking to hire EMTs. The EMT shortage is a national trend: according to a recent survey by the Washington D.C.-based American Ambulance Association, the turnover among paramedics and EMTs ranges from 20% to 30% annually.

Locally, the industry has been suffering a decline for years, with many blaming a low pay scale, long hours and a recertification process every three years. Some volunteers opted to stay home during the pandemic while paid EMTs moved on to higher paying fields such as nursing, officials said.

"We were already spread thin and COVID just pushed it over the edge," said William Michael Masterton, chief of EMS education and training for Suffolk County."Every year it gets harder and harder to get people into the industry."

The program has already graduated more than 500 EMTs across the country, said Dan Leibowitz, president
"With this, I didn’t have to balance that work and school life," he said."This was my job."

Leibowitz said the program was created as a pipeline for the company which has been desperately looking to
hire EMTs. The EMT shortage is a national trend: according to a recent survey by the Washington D.C.-based
American Ambulance Association, the turnover among paramedics and EMTs ranges from 20% to 30%
annually.

Locally, the industry has been suffering a decline for years, with many blaming a low pay scale, long hours and a
recertification process every three years. Some volunteers opted to stay home during the pandemic while paid
EMTs moved on to higher paying fields such as nursing, officials said.

"We were already spread thin and COVID just pushed it over the edge," said William Michael Masterton, chief
of EMS education and training for Suffolk County."Every year it gets harder and harder to get people into the
industry."

Dr. Gregson Pigott, Suffolk’s health commissioner, said the Hunter program is a good start but"with this
constant turnover of EMTS, you need a lot of programs and they need to be funded."

Denison Zamor, 20, of Elmont, is becoming an EMT as a step toward eventually becoming a nurse."I feel like it
will broaden my knowledge so that I can not only help other people but those close to my heart," he said.
The graduates all said they want to be EMTs so they can help people at their most vulnerable.

"A lot of the people that we’re meeting they might be a little afraid and confused," said Michael Elsroad, 41, of
Astoria."I like being that person there who will try to at least alleviate some of that, however I can."

See Video: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lxNGTEGXGc7QcaxnMNZ6ABz6bv-GN6kh/view
 

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