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EMT graduation held at LaGuardia Community College to address NYC shortage

LaGuardia EMT
Eighty graduates of the innovative Earn While You Learn EMT training program were celebrated at LaGuardia Community College. (Photo courtesy of LaGuardia Community College)

On April 28, Global Medical Response (GMR) hosted the graduation of 80 new emergency medical technicians (EMTs) at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, as the city and country faced a critical shortage of EMTs.

Of the 80 graduates, 30 were from LaGuardia’s training program. The other graduates were from training centers in Long Island and Westchester.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, FDNY Emergency Medical Service units responded to more than 6,000 calls across the city per day, many of them in Queens, which was known as the “epicenter of the epicenter” during the spring of 2020.

LaGuardia EMT
Photo courtesy of LaGuardia Community College

“LaGuardia Community College has been providing top-notch emergency medical services training for 35 years, and we are pleased to continue that long-standing tradition through our work with Global Medical Response,” said LaGuardia Community College Vice President of Adult and Continuing Education Sunil B. Gupta. “Today’s graduates, and those of future cohorts, help reduce the shortage of vital EMTs in communities throughout New York City and beyond.”

The graduates were part of GMR’s Earn While You Learn program, which paid the students throughout their EMT training. In addition to an hourly salary, training valued at $1,500 was provided at no cost to the students with their textbooks, uniforms, tuition and fees all covered by the program. In return, participants agree to work for GMR for one year after becoming a certified EMT. The graduates are eligible to work for one of GMR’s subsidiaries: American Medical Response, Hunter Ambulance or Crowd Rx. As EMT graduates, they will each receive a raise and a promotion.

Among the 30 LaGuardia graduates, 25-year-old Dora Meschino of South Ozone Park received the Outstanding Student Award for excellence in EMT skills and perfect attendance.

LaGuardia EMT
South Ozone Park’s Dora Meschino took home LaGuardia’s Outstanding Student award for excellence. (Photo courtesy of LaGuardia Community College)

“I’m excited to get to work as an EMT. I became an EMT because I’ve always loved helping people and wanted to learn about the medical field,” Meschino said. “This program will help get me a good job as an EMT that will enable me to pay my bills while I continue to pursue my bachelor’s in emergency services administration and homeland security at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. I’m focused on becoming the best EMT possible so that one day I can become the best paramedic. My long-term goal is to work in disaster management with FEMA.”

Earn While You Learn has graduated more than 1,000 EMTs since its inception in 2016 and received a national honor from the American Ambulance Association in the best employee programs category. Similar programs have been launched across the nation, including Alabama, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee.

“Today is a remarkable day for emergency medical services in New York,” said Michael Addario, Global Medical Response’s vice president of operations for New York. “I am delighted to see this continued growth of the Earn While You Earn program exemplified today by the graduation of our 1,000th student. We are attracting exceptionally talented EMTs to join our workforce and training them for careers that will prepare them for an exciting future.”

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