May 21, 2005 The territory has 14 new emergency medical technicians thanks to a training program sponsored by the St. John Emergency Medical Service Association.
They graduated Saturday in a ceremony at the Battery as part of EMS Week.
"It's the first class on St. John in over 20 years," emergency medical technician Carol Beckowitz said this week.
The 170-hour course ran from November 2004 through March. The graduates will take the national certifying test on June 11. Beckowitz said previously those wanting EMT training had to go to St. Thomas.
Kat Taylor, EMS supervisor on St. John, said Friday she hopes that some of the graduates will fill current and future vacant positions on St. John.
Some of the students came from Fire Services, V.I. National Park and the volunteer group, St. John Rescue.
With the current budget crisis, the Health Department doesn't have enough money to hire anyone to cover the fast-growing Coral Bay area, Taylor said. It takes the ambulance about 20 minutes to make the trip from its base near the Cruz Bay waterfront, a time lapse that could cost someone their life.
With Fire Services staff, park rangers and St. John Rescue volunteers who live in the Coral Bay area trained as EMTs, the gap will be lessened.
Taylor said that when the two EMTs on duty on St. John have to go with a patient on the Star of Life ambulance boat to meet the St. Thomas ambulance at Red Hook for transport to Roy L. Schneider Hospital, no one is available on St. John.
"There's nobody here for like an hour," she said.
She said those trained as EMTs but working for other agencies can then fill in.
St. John Administrator Julien Harley sees definite benefits to having a pool of trained EMTs on St. John. He said Friday he hopes the Health Department will hire those St. John residents trained as EMTs when positions are open. He also suggested that the St. Thomas residents serving on St. John be transferred back to St. Thomas and the slots be filled with those in the graduating class.
He agreed with Taylor in seeing the advantage of having people in other agencies trained as EMTs.
Taylor said that three of the service's seven staff members on St. John, including herself, hold the more advanced paramedic designation. However, only Taylor lives on St. John; the other two are St. Thomas residents.
The other four EMTs are considered intermediate EMTs. There are always two people working each shift.
The graduates are Dale Carty and Larry Clarke from Fire Services on St. John and Adrian Kean from Fire Services on St. Thomas. St. John Rescue members who took the training include John Bowman, Darrell Tasman and Mike Jordan. Cheri Caseau and Suzette Kelly, who work at the national park, completed the training.
Additionally, Brian Walden, Wendy Davis, Dianne Joseph, Venetia Fredricks, and Nadine Marchena took the course.
Taylor had accolades for the Caneel Bay Resort and Westin Resort and Villas, which helped out by housing instructors. She said the national park and Fire Services also assisted.
"The community is always behind us," Taylor said.
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