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Opinions differ about EMT training timeline

August 17, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County and the local Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association missed a state deadline for submitting a training plan, and as a result, the association won't be able to offer advanced training courses this year, County Director of Emergency Services Joe Kroboth said Monday.

But a state official said that wasn't the case.

Kroboth said that because the deadline was missed, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) hoping to upgrade their skills might have to wait another 12 months for the training or take courses that might cost the county and the association thousands more than what it now costs.

Kroboth said the deadline was missed because the association placed its emergency medical services management specialist on leave from June 4 to July 28.

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Kroboth said he had been working with the specialist, Brigitte Heller, for more than a year to complete a training plan and submit it to Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) by a July 1 deadline. The plan was not completed because Heller was placed on leave by the association, he said.

Beginning Oct. 15, all emergency medical courses to be offered must be approved by the Emergency Medical Services Board, said Bill Seifarth, associate director of MIEMSS' Office of Education, Licensure and Certification, which approves the plans. The board oversees MIEMSS.

"What that's telling me is most likely we're not going to be able to have a class to graduate new paramedics next year," Kroboth said.

The courses typically begin in September and are completed in the spring, he said.

Seifarth said the county and association may offer the training courses once they are authorized by the Emergency Medical Services Board.

He said that July 1 wasn't a deadline to submit portions of the training plan. It was a recommended date, so jurisdictions or associations in the state could have their programs approved in time to offer courses by Oct. 15, he said.

While it's too late for Washington County and the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association to gain approval by Oct. 15, Seifarth said they could submit their training plan anytime.

"They're certainly eligible," Seifarth said. "If they want to offer courses, they have to wait until they're approved. It's not that they are shut down."

The approval process typically takes a few months, Seifarth said.

The courses allow emergency medical technicians to receive advanced training and possibly become nationally certified paramedics, Kroboth said.

EMTs provide basic life-saving services, while paramedics can administer drugs and have more in-depth medical training, he said.

About 12 to 20 people take the courses annually, Kroboth said.

If the county and association could not offer courses, EMTs would be able to enroll in training programs at places such as Hagerstown Community College or Frederick (Md.) Community College, but Kroboth said it's cheaper for the county and association to provide the courses.

The county and association spent $12,000 to $15,000 last year on such training. Kroboth estimated it would cost $40,000 to $60,000 if all instruction were done outside the association.

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