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    NY National Guard Soldiers, Airmen train as EMTs

    Soldiers, Airmen in EMT training

    Photo By Maj. Michael O'Hagan | U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kenneth Brown, 106th Rescue Wing, New York Air National...... read more read more



    Story by Eric Durr and Maj. Michael O'Hagan

    New York National Guard

    FARMINGDALE, New York – It’s Jan. 18, 2022, and 37 New York Army National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are at Long Island’s Farmingdale Armed Forces Reserve Center going through the steps for checking a patient’s airways and blood pressure.

    None of the 25 Soldiers and 12 Airmen are military medics. They’re volunteers, half-way through a 180-hour program designed to turn National Guard men and women into emergency medical technicians.

    “The trainers that we have are making sure we are equipped for the test and actual practical stuff in real life,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Kenneth Brown, an air transportation specialist assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing and a Nassau County police officer in civilian life.

    The program, a joint effort of the New York National Guard and the New York State Department of Health, will provide 400 men and women with medical training they can use while on state active duty missions.

    The training was directed by New York Governor Kathy Hochul. Her goal, Hochul said during a press conference, is to have more Guardsmen with basic medical skills who can help fill medical staffing shortages.

    The Soldiers and Airmen are going through month-long intensive training modeled on a program used to train New York City police officers, according to Instructor Andy Bershad, the owner of Flying Aces, a consulting company contracted to teach the Farmingdale course.

    It’s a tough training program, but the pass rate is about 90%, Bershad said.

    And the Guardsmen are doing well, he emphasized.

    “I want to give these guys kudos,” Bershad said. “I’m very impressed with the professionalism and ability for these military students to absorb complex medical instruction at the rate the class is being taught.”

    On the 18th, another class of 40 troops was also underway at the Lexington Avenue Armory in Manhattan. Plans are in place to run nine more classes in New York City, Albany, Syracuse and Buffalo to reach the governor’s goal.

    "The Department of Health and our New York National Guard have been working side-by-side to fight this pandemic since day one and I am proud to see this innovative plan between the two agencies come to fruition. When times get tough, New Yorkers put their heads together and find solutions,” Hochul said.

    The Soldiers and Airmen being trained are all on federal COVID-19 response mission orders.

    Those who pass the course will be certified by New York state as EMTs for three years.

    The genesis of this training began in late December 2021 when the governor turned to the New York National Guard to help fill staffing shortages at nursing homes across the state.

    Understaffed nursing homes and long-term care facilities meant that they could take fewer patients. People that could be released from hospitals, freeing up beds for COVID-19 patients, were not able to move into these facilities, according to officials.

    The New York National Guard was asked to provide Army Guard medics and Air Guard medical technicians, to work at those facilities.

    But of the New York National Guard’s 536 medical personnel —372 Army Guard and 164 Air Guard--only 120 were not currently working in a medical field in their civilian job. So those were the Soldiers and Airmen who went on duty.

    Taking Guardsmen from their civilian medical job, putting them in uniform and moving them to another healthcare workplace didn’t make any sense, explained Army Brig. Gen. Isabel Rivera Smith, the director of joint staff for the New York National Guard.

    Training more people as EMTs gives the New York National Guard greater flexibility responding to missions, Smith said. The Soldiers and Airmen also see the value in their civilian and military lives, she added.

    “They're very excited about this course because it will give them an additional skill set to be able to use outside of the National Guard if they so choose to,” Smith said.

    Air Force Airman 1st Class Aziza Alieva, a firefighter assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing, said she appreciated the instructors hands on approach and their sharing of real world emergency medical lessons.

    She is a hands on learner, said Alieva, an immigrant from Uzbekistan. That training approach makes the class more effective for her, she added.

    “I have broader knowledge of everything now, so that is going to be helpful,” she said.

    Army Spc. Nicholas Zerella, a member of the 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery, and New York City firefighter in civilian life, said the EMT training was first rate.

    “It’s a great opportunity and I am glad to be here,” Zerella said.

    Being able to help was what made him sign up for the course, said Army Staff Sgt. Tyrone Price, a member of the 1569th Transportation Company and the class leader.

    A transit railroad motorman in civilian life, Price said his goal is to be prepared for emergencies.

    “I just want to help out the best way I know how and the most professional way I can,” he said.

    Army Spc. Robert Coleman, a member of the 719th Transportation Company, and a postal worker in civilian life, said he felt that taking the class was very important.

    “This EMT training means a lot to me, because this training could save someone’s life,” Coleman said.

    “It’s a big deal to have someone’s life in your hands,” he added.



    Date Taken: 01.25.2022
    Date Posted: 01.25.2022 09:00
    Story ID: 413364
    Location: FARMINGDALE , NY, US 
    Hometown: FARMINGDALE, NY, US

    Web Views: 125
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