Long Island Welcomes 11 New EMTs Amidst Nationwide Shortage

WEST ISLIP, NY — Eleven Long Island residents officially committed to saving lives on Wednesday, and became emergency medical technicians in a graduation ceremony at Good Samaritan Hospital.

According to a press release, the graduates were part of a unique program operated by GMR that paid them to “Earn While You Learn” as they trained to become EMTs.

This is the second class to graduate from the program on Long Island since American Medical Response and its parent company, GMR, acquired Hunter EMS last summer, the press release said. EMTs who graduate from the program will be eligible to work for AMR, Hunter EMS or Crowd Rx, which provides EMS services at New York City sites and landmarks such as Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium.

Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter, Suffolk County Legislator Steve Flotteron and Babylon Councilman Terrence McSweeney joined Hunter Ambulance and Global Medical Response at the graduation, applauding Long Island's newest first responders.

“The Earn While You Learn program is a landmark advancement for the EMS industry,” said McSweeney. “As a former EMT, I can tell you that there are plenty of people who want to break into the industry, but financial problems can make it difficult. Earn While You Learn lends a helping hand to all those who want to serve their community but can’t find the money to pay for certifications.”

The celebration comes as the country faces a critical EMT shortage and continues the battle against COVID-19. Upon the graduation ceremony, the new EMTs received a raise and a promotion, a press release said.

“The Earn While You Learn class was an opportunity for me to get an education while making a full-time income,” said Lenny Trionfo, a new EMT graduate. “The class and instructors were awesome, and I’m excited to get the real-world experience and connect with patients and their families.”

Earn While You Learn has graduated more than 900 EMTs since its inception in late 2018 and received a national honor from the American Ambulance Association in the best Employee Programs Category. Similar programs have also been launched in Alabama, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee.

This article originally appeared on the West Islip Patch