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Preston Commission to pay for EMT training

Preston County’s latest batch of EMT’s will have their education paid for by the Preston County Commission in exchange for serving the county for a year.

Commissioners voted unanimously to fund the training for $6,000 at their meeting this week. The money used came from the coal severance fund.

The commission previously discussed requiring a year of service in the county if it paid for classes. County Administrator Kathy Mace said she spoke with Jay Shay, the prosecuting attorney about that.

“If they accept the scholarship, that if they do not certify they return the money, and also that they commit to one year of service in Preston County, as an EMT,” Mace said. “And the (Preston County EMS) association was in favor of that. Understand that if the money comes forward from the county commission, that will be the requirements.”

Mace said she spoke with Pam Thomas, a member of the association and president of KAMP Ambulance Service, and they have been working with WorkForce West Virginia. Some students have submitted applications to see if they are eligible to have the training covered.

Commissioner Dave Price brought up a conversation the association had with folks in Charleston about efforts to increase training. 

Mace said that was part of the governor’s initiative for EMS training through the Department of Education. She said it’s similar to how the nursing program works.

“I believe that we’re hopeful that even the training dollars that we’re putting forward, that the association can actually get reimbursed for those. So it was a really exciting call,” Mace said. “We’d heard about the $10 million from the governor, but nobody was really talking about it. And I think Dave’s right. I think, in fact, we were pretty interested in being a pilot for them. So hope we can be. I think it’d be really exciting for a new program and new employment opportunities in Preston County.”

Preston County has made efforts to improve its EMS service using federal money from the pandemic. Previously, it contributed just over $70,000 to reimburse county EMS agencies for worker’s compensation costs. 

The commission has also talked about creating an ordinance establishing an EMS fee. EMS accessibility is a problem state-wide and while Preston County is better off than many, the commission wants to improve service and establish the long-term funding needed to sustain service.

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