Buffalo firefighters are required to be Emergency Medical Technicians, or EMTs, as a condition of employment. But as News 4 Investigates discovered, around 200 members are lacking recertification, which needs to be done every three years, reports wivb.com (http://bit.ly/1ExQb1q)
“Their lack of certification means that they have not been tested. They have not had that state exam that would recertify them. And that’s been our problem,” Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield said.
According to Whitfield, the training, which involves classroom and practical skills, is done during a firefighter’s normal work schedule with no overtime involved, and could take nearly three months to complete.
“We have to take companies out of service and bring them downtown to our classrooms,” Whitfield said. “We’re limited in the number of persons we can take out of service to provide them that training because we must provide protection to the rest of the city.”
Buffalo firefighters are seasoned, and well-trained. Many members have had to go through EMT recertification before. The push to make them EMTs came from the City’s desire to raise the level of service to the community.
“We’re at the point now because of the limited number of persons we have available to us on a daily basis. It’s difficult,” Whitfield added. “We’re starting to get behind a little bit, but we recognize that.”
Most emergency calls are for medical help and the firefighters are usually the first on the scene. They’re tasked with lifesaving skills.
Erie County’s Division of Emergency Medical Services oversees much of the EMT training in the county, including the Buffalo Fire Department.
According to Gregory Gill, Deputy Commissioner of the county’s EMS division, once a certification lapses an individual is no longer recognized as an EMT by the New York State Health Department.