There’s so much more to being a firefighter than just “putting the wet stuff on the red stuff” (fighting fires) — in fact, in many cases that’s the service your volunteer firefighters provide least often. But that’s a good thing, if you think about it. Fires damage homes and commercial properties and can take a life in an instant.
For most volunteer fire departments, EMS incidents (Emergency Medical Services) account for as much as 80% or more of the total number of emergencies they respond to on an annual basis. And, the large majority of the volunteer fire departments in Erie County provide EMS at some level of care and as either the sole EMS provider in their community, or in conjunction with a commercial ambulance service or volunteer ambulance corps.
Some volunteer fire departments require their firefighters to have EMS training and some don’t. Others offer EMS-Only type memberships, allowing you to concentrate on what you enjoy most.
Just like our firefighting courses, EMS training is free to volunteer firefighters and first responders throughout Erie County*. You can start out by just learning basic first aid, CPR and how to use an AED; or you can jump in as a Certified First Responder (CFR), which involves about 70 hours of training.
The training necessary to become a New York State Certified Basic Emergency Medical Technician (EMT-B) is about 130 hours and takes about the same time as a semester of college. The good news is that you can earn college credit for taking the training and there are frequently available job opportunities to work for a commercial EMS provider and gain more experience.
Some EMTs go on to become Intermediate EMTs (EMT-I) and even Paramedics (EMT-P), the latter of which takes about a year of schooling. It’s challenging, but many people actually go to Paramedic school while holding down a full time job and even busy family lives.
But don’t give up just yet, the training requirements may sound intense — but not as intense as the rewarding experience and self-satisfaction you’ll get from saving a life and making a difference. EMS volunteers help people and have a huge impact on our citizens and visitors every day in Erie County.
Learn more about getting involved in “EMS” by contacting your local volunteer fire department, completing our simple contact form or by calling our Erie County Volunteer Firefighter Hotline at 716.601.3021.
In Genesee County:
Click here to learn more about volunteering in Fire/EMS by visiting Get FIRED Up Genesee!
NOTE: *=Erie County provides free CFR and EMT-B training; and supports EMT-I and Paramedic refresher training to qualified volunteer firefighters and first responders. Paramedic training costs are the responsibility of the student or their sponsoring agency.