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City wants to expand training program

The Buffalo Fire Department wants to launch its own training program for emergency medical technicians, a move that officials predict will bring in new revenues.

About half of all city firefighters have already received EMT training through a program operated by Erie County, said Deputy Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield Jr.

The goal is to see the city start its own initiative, which could be expanded beyond the 400 city employees who must still be trained. The program could be offered to other entities outside the Fire Department, Whitfield said.

"Right now, we have no mechanism for generating funds in the Buffalo Fire Department," he said. "We could really market this training."

Whitfield said the state gives reimbursements for each firefighter that receives EMT training, but he said the $750 stipend currently goes to the county. He thinks Buffalo could generate a profit if it operated its own program, adding that the city already has suitable facilities and software.

There are financial issues that need to be addressed relating to how revenues from such an initiative would be used, said city accountant Anne Forti-Sciarrino.

Meanwhile, some Council members are encouraging the Fire Department to pursue the idea.

"It makes sense," said Masten Council Member Demone A. Smith. "It's about time."

All city firefighters receive first-responder training, allowing them to perform basic first aid and other emergency procedures. EMT training is more comprehensive and enables people to perform a broader range of medical tasks. City firefighters started receiving EMT training about three years ago.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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