BUFFALO, N.Y. — New York National Guard soldiers will be trained to become certified Emergency Medical Technicians, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Friday.
The move is the latest by the state in an attempt to combat a winter surge in COVID cases. The plan is to use the new EMTs at health care facilities that are in need and facing staff shortages.
"As we fight this surge, we are deploying every resource available to meet the needs of our health care system, and this expedited training partnership will help ensure our most vulnerable patients get the care they need," Hochul said Friday in a statement.
The latest action follows Hochul's Dec. 1 deployment of 60 National Guard medical teams to state long-term care facilities.
At the time, Hochul said National Guard members who are certified EMTs to assist New York nursing homes.
"The Department of Health and our New York National Guard have been working side-by-side to fight this pandemic since Day 1, and I am proud to see this innovative plan between the two agencies come to fruition," Hochul said. "When times get tough, New Yorkers put their heads together and find solutions."
To expedite the process, the state's health department and Division of Military and Naval Affairs will hold two pilot classes for EMT training. There will be 40 service members in each of the two classes starting Wednesday.
After those 80 service members receive the required 180 hours of training, they will be available to be deployed in February.
"Supporting our health care system is critical to protecting the health of New Yorkers and our heroic health care workers," acting state health commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said.
She added: "This training will enable us to have more clinical staff available for deployment throughout the state, injecting support when and where it may be needed most."