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Charity pays paramedics' training costs
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 25 August 2010 00:00

About half the firefighters who serve at Cottonwood Fire Department could qualify for advanced life support training, but the $4,000 cost of tuition imposes an obstacle for most, according to Patrick McIniss, an emergency medical technician and firefighter who is collecting money for scholarships.

Lt. Shawn Kuykendall, left, a firefighter and paramedic with the Cottonwood Fire Department, explains a heart monitor printout Friday, Aug. 20, from a demonstration on firefighter Greg Gaiser of one of the advanced lifesaving skills paramedics are qualified to perform. Two CFD firefighters are now in school to become paramedics and two more begin classes in September, training which must currently be paid for by the firefighters themselves.McIniss said Cottonwood Firefighters Association, a nonprofit charity, is seeking donations to pay these training costs for worthy firefighters.

To qualify for the scholarship, city firefighters will be asked to submit a statement of interest in the training and will be asked to explain how training would help them improve safety and efficiency at the department, he said.

The charity plans to award scholarship money based on statements of interest and maybe personal interviews, though details of the criteria and award process are still being worked out, McIniss said.

The association hopes to have enough money collected for at least one scholarship by December.

Two city firefighters are currently receiving the advanced life support training, but paying for it with their own money, he said.

“Since the economic recession, educational funding along with many other programs has been cut back in the city budget. The city can no longer help pay the cost of the training,” McIniss said.

Of the department’s 24 firefighters, 12 are emergency medical technicians and 12 are paramedics. Advanced life support training is paramedic training.

Advanced life support training gives paramedics credentials authorizing them, in urgent care situations, to start IVs, administer medications and interpret monitoring equipment for the heart and other organs, McIniss said.
Paramedic training can run from nine to 18 months and cost from $3,500 to $4,000, he said.

“It allows us to provide a much higher level of care to the patients we deal with every day,” McIniss said.
Paramedic training may not play any role in advancement at the workplace, or result in any pay increase, but it does give a firefighter advanced skills that are marketable, McIniss said.

Donations to Cottonwood Firefighters Association receive tax-exempt status, which means the donor may use the donation as a tax deduction, he said.

The association plans to award at least one scholarship by December. Association representatives are currently touring businesses in the community asking for help. No other fundraising activities or events are planned, McIniss said.

 
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