Amid a nationwide shortage of responders, southern Vermont’s largest emergency medical service provider is launching the state’s first EMS-specific training school.
Brattleboro-based Rescue Inc. will tap $1 million in federal and state funds to open a new Vermont EMS Academy in nearby Newfane.
“Many rural communities in Vermont and around the region rely on their local emergency medical responders, but there’s a dearth of qualified individuals and training opportunities,” said Marc Schauber, the academy’s program manager. “With many communities being an hour or more from the nearest hospital, the quality of care that individuals can receive on the scene and en route is literally a matter of life and death.”
The academy will start in September with a “soft launch” of certification courses for emergency medical technicians. It eventually will offer everything from basic CPR classes for the public to advanced instruction for medical professionals.
“It’s both a natural progression and a dream realized for Rescue,” said Drew Hazelton, chief of operations for the private nonprofit organization. “We’ve always wanted to create a place where doctors, nurses, teachers and first responders can hone and broaden their skills.”
Rescue will start the academy with federal funding earned through Covid-19 vaccination contracts with the Vermont Department of Health.
“We completed Windham County so quickly, the state asked us to do home visits and clinics for Windsor, then Bennington, and then on and on,” Hazelton said. “We knew it was a one-time thing and not the ‘new normal,’ so we discussed how we could use those funds to serve the health needs of our communities. The academy was a clear choice.”
Rescue, founded in 1966, serves 14 municipalities in southern Vermont and neighboring New Hampshire. It recently made news when the town of Brattleboro hoped to save money by dropping its nearly 60-year contract with the provider, only to rack up costs trying to do the job itself.
Schauber, a former paramedic, said information about the academy and an Oct. 15 open house will be available on the new website at vemsa.org.
“I’ve been working in and around the emergency medical field for decades, and the timing for this school couldn’t be better,” Schauber said. “Many other states have EMS academies, but not Vermont. We’re going to be the first.”
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