N.Y. National Guard Soldiers are getting EMT training

Through a pilot program, the first to gain certifications could be ready for clinical deployments as soon as Feb. 5


By Leila Merrill

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have been participating in a pilot program that gives them EMT training, according to the New York National Guard.

The volunteers do not have medical experience and are not military medics, but they are learning skills such as checking a patient’s airway and blood pressure.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kenneth Brown demonstrates how to check a patient on Jan. 17 during EMT training at the Farmingdale Armed Forces Reserve Center in Farmingdale, New York.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kenneth Brown demonstrates how to check a patient on Jan. 17 during EMT training at the Farmingdale Armed Forces Reserve Center in Farmingdale, New York. (Photo/New York National Guard)

“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 police officer outside of the military.

The program is a partnership between the New York State Department of Health and the New York National Guard.

Once certified, the service members will be eligible for clinical deployments, the department said in a news release. Classes started on Jan. 5, and after 180 hours of training, the new EMTs can be ready for clinical deployments as soon as Feb. 5. Two groups have started classes, and each group can include up to 40 students. 

“I want to give these guys kudos,” instructor Andy 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.”

The partnership announcement in December followed Gov. Kathy Hochul’s deployment of 60 National Guard medical teams to long-term care facilities to help fill staffing shortages.

The New York National Guard has 536 medical personnel, but only 120 were not working in a medical field as civilians. So they were the ones who could go on duty.

Removing Guardsmen from their civilian medical jobs to deploy them to another healthcare workplace would not make sense, said Army Brig. Gen. Isabel Rivera Smith. Smith is the director of joint staff for the New York National Guard.

Training more members as EMTs gives the New York National Guard additional flexibility, she said.

“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.

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