NYS DOH will begin training New York National Guard soldiers to become certified EMTs
√ Certification said to result in service members being available for clinical deployment in areas of need
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday announced a new partnership between the New York State Department of Health and the New York National Guard that will train soldiers to become certified EMTs, resulting in additional service members eligible for clinical deployments at health care facilities in need of staff due to the winter surge of COVID-19.
The partnership builds on Hochul's Dec. 1 deployment of 60 National Guard medical teams to various long-term care facility locations across New York.
"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. "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. When times get tough, New Yorkers put their heads together and find solutions."
In order to increase the ranks of National Guard personnel with medical training, DOH and NYS Division of Military and Naval Affairs are putting together two pilot classes of EMT training for 80 service members (two classes of 40) starting Jan. 5. This will result in these service members being available for clinical deployment in February after the required 180 hours of training.
DOH-lead classes will be taught at Fort Hamilton Armed Forces Reserve Center at the U.S. Army post in Brooklyn, and the Farmingdale Armed Forces Reserve Center on Long Island. The students will be on federal Title 32 COVID-19 response mission orders, and additional soldiers will be identified for training should the need persist.
Maj. General Raymond Shields said, "Our New York National Guard soldiers and airmen have been taking on new missions on a regular basis since the start of this pandemic, ranging from delivering meals, to running tests sites to helping to administer over 4 million vaccinations. The service members who have volunteered for this training and this mission are looking forward to helping their fellow citizens once again."
Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "Supporting our health care system is critical to protecting the health of New Yorkers and our heroic health care workers. The National Guard has been a partner to the state throughout the pandemic, and we look forward to launching this innovative program in collaboration with them. 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."
New York State Testing Sites
Hochul also announced six new state testing sites to address the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. These sites are aimed providing additional testing options in areas of high need throughout the Capital, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley and Western New York regions.
"We want to start the New Year strong and use every tool at our disposal," she said. "By mobilizing testing sites throughout the state, we will make sure testing is more accessible and convenient for New Yorkers. We will continue to expand testing availability to every corner of the state, evaluating where more capacity and additional sites are needed soon. I encourage every New Yorker to take advantage of a site near them."
Sites are currently being mobilized with all locations slated to open on Jan. 4. Upon launch, all sites will offer rapid antigen tests. New Yorkers are strongly encouraged to make appointments here. Test results are sent following the appointment through email or text message. Walk-in appointments will also be available.
In Western New York, the site will be Northwest Buffalo Community Center, 155 Lawn Ave., Buffalo. On Jan. 4, operating hours will be noon to 6 p.m. After that, it will be open during regular hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Additional sites throughout the state are being planned as well, and information regarding these sites will be announced soon. New Yorkers can find sites near them here.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "I want to thank the governor for her commitment to expand COVID testing sites, including the one at Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon. Adding additional sites here in Westchester and throughout New York is a top priority for the Senate. I know the last few weeks have felt like a step back on all of the progress we have made. We hoped to be completely opened up for the holidays, but COVID had other plans for us. But this is not a repeat of March 2020. We now have a strong arsenal of tools to fight this virus and limit the human and economic toll of the pandemic. We need everyone to get vaccinated, get boosted, wear masks and get tested as we push through this latest phase of the crisis."
WELL Health CEO & Medical Director Dr. Abdul-Ahad Hayee, M.D., one of the founding partners, said, "It is our mission to help as many people as possible find easy, accessible COVID-19 testing sites and deliver quick, accurate results. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are proud to work with New York state and the Department of Health on this partnership to bring six new test sites to New York communities in different locations throughout the state, as we've successfully done with so many other states already. We thank Gov. Hochul for her leadership in ensuring New Yorkers' have even more access to testing – helping communities stay safe and stay open."