Nearly 40 people are hoping to become new Emergency Medical Technicians. They've just begun a new training course at Rural Metro, which is looking to grow its workforce, especially with people who reside in the City of Buffalo.

A class of 38 trainees, 22 of whom are Buffalo residents, have begun a 12-week training course at Rural Metro's facility on William Gaiter Parkway in Buffalo. Upon passage of this course, the trainees would then qualify to take the state certification course which, in turn, would allow them to work as EMTs in New York.

"We have about 450 employees in our operation," said Jay Smith, regional director for Rural Metro. "But there's a constant need for certified EMTs and paramedics. A difficult thing in our industry is just that very fact. There's not enough certified EMTs and paramedics to go around and cover the territory we need."

Andrew Giambrone, a Tonawanda resident and one of the trainees, witnessed this firsthand. A volunteer firefighter for the past 11 years, Giambrone recalled when his fire company was called to assist in Orchard Park during the Snowvember 2014 storm.

"We had a bunch of firefighters but only one individual was an EMT and he hadn't done it in a while," Giambrone said. "He was the only one able to help out on the ambulance. They were running all day and all night."

Under their contract renewal with the City of Buffalo in 2014, Rural Metro vowed to grow its workforce by 20 percent, with emphasis on recruiting within the city. Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield addressed the new class of trainees and spoke of the significance of residents serving the neighborhoods in which they live.

"I'm an advocate for residency within the City of Buffalo, supporting residents of the City of Buffalo," said Whitfield, who noted that new Buffalo Firefighters are obligated to live within the city for the duration of their careers with the department. "I believe you work where you play and play where you work."

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