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Monroe County Executive Adam Bello Announces Innovative American Rescue Plan Act-Funded Initiative to Address Shortage of Emergency Medical Technicians & Paramedics

May 24th, 2023

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The program, spearheaded by Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance in partnership with Monroe Community College, will provide tuition/fees, paid training, child care, transportation and educational supports for EMT and paramedic candidates.

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Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, along with Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance Chief Jonathan Smith, County Legislators, heads of local EMS service agencies and officials with Monroe Community College today announced an innovative ARPA-funded program that would address an ongoing shortage of emergency medical personnel by training 160 Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) and paramedics over the next four years. These trained EMT’s and paramedics would then be qualified to work for any EMS agency within Monroe County.

“Our EMS providers are grappling with a crisis: a workforce shortage and declining pipeline of EMT and paramedic candidates,” said County Executive Bello. “This initiative, developed by Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance, exemplifies the spirit of my Bring Monroe Back initiative. This is out-of-the-box thinking that channels ARPA dollars in a creative way to address our community’s most pressing public health and safety needs and make truly transformative change.”

“The pandemic highlighted that our paramedics and EMTs are heroes who devote their lives to keeping the community safe, and that is why it makes so much sense for County Executive Bello to invest this federal money to train 160 new EMT’s and paramedics to help fix the shortage EMS workers in Monroe County,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “As lead negotiator of the American Rescue Plan Act, I was proud to deliver over $144 million to Monroe County to weather and recover from COVID, and I commend County Executive Bello for ensuring these funds will be used to directly target the needs of Monroe County residents.”

“Addressing EMS staffing shortages by recruiting from underserved communities while covering the costs of education is a truly innovative approach to shoring up the workforce. Removing barriers to this pathway of service will go a long way to address regional health and safety needs. I’m grateful for the efforts of County Executive Bello, Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance, and Monroe Community College in developing this partnership,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “I’m proud to have fought for this funding through the American Rescue Plan and remain committed to ensuring EMS agencies and all first responders have the resources they need to succeed.”

“EMS practitioners are vital to our first responder network,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “We need to ensure all those willing to provide these services have the opportunity to do so. I’m proud to have delivered funding for this program through the American Rescue Plan, and grateful to County Executive Bello for marking EMS Week by removing the financial barriers to training for this commendable career choice.”

Earlier this year, County Executive Bello asked emergency service providers to apply for ARPA funds to assist in their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants were available to help agencies recruit and retain staff and improve service. Under the terms of the request for proposal, agencies were required to put forward submissions that would enhance workforce development, support and retain public sector workers and improve the delivery of key services affecting public health, among other criteria.

“Historically, EMT classes have been offered in formats that do not align well with recruitment and development of new EMTs,” said Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance Chief Jonathan Smith. “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.”

The Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance program calls for actively recruiting candidates for training — particularly candidates from traditionally underserved communities — then providing those candidates with comprehensive instruction at Monroe Community College. The ARPA funding will cover tuition, fees, books and supplies, paid training time, day care, transportation and additional educational supports candidates may require.

Chief Smith also serves as the Chairman of the Monroe County EMS Chiefs Association, which represents 11 of Monroe County’s ambulance companies. The association works to identify shared needs and opportunities to collaborate on solutions that benefit the community at large. While Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance is the sole recipient of the award, the proposed program was developed on behalf of the collective Monroe County EMS community and is designed to benefit all of the local EMS services in Monroe County.

The funding will be spread over four years and allow for one 20-student EMT cohort on a track to earn associates degrees and one 20-student paramedic cohort to enter the program in each of those years.

Individuals who successfully complete the program will be qualified to work for any EMS provider within Monroe County.

“Public safety is a critical function of government, and in some cases, is executed through partnerships with community groups. The American Rescue Plan award to Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance will allow the organization to coordinate efforts across the county to recruit, educate, and develop skilled Emergency Management Clinicians,” said Monroe County Legislator Howard Maffucci.

“Today's announcement of a Countywide EMS training program hosted by Pittsford Ambulance is a critical aspect of our overall public safety allocation as it helps alleviate the current EMS crisis facing our County and Country," said Republican Legislator Sean McCabe, member of the Public Safety ARPA Selection Committee. "Our EMS and Fire Agencies need our help now more than ever and these thoughtful investments will truly make a difference for each recipient and our residents. The foremost duty of elected officials is to protect the safety of our community - these allocations will do just that."