Rural/Metro was purchased by AMR last year and has come under fire for slow emergency response times. Thomas Maxian the new regional director said the company is doing all they can to improve service.
Maxian said the first step is increasing certified EMTs. "We have 25 of them in the program right now," said Maxian. "We'll have 25 of them out on the street in about two more weeks."
EMTs go through three months of state training followed by an examine. After that there's more in-company training.
In April, AMR added 19 certified EMTs to the field. They all started working last week.
"It was intense," said Vermonica James. "I actually worked 72 hours so that was different. I had to perform CPR."
James said her thought and focus on the job could make a difference between life and death.
"This person's life is dependent on it and if I don't do what I'm suppose to do there could be severe consequences," said James. "I'm thinking, this is someone's family member."
Leonora Williams graduated from the program with James in April after working in a nursing home as a CNA for years.
"It's a very fast paced course," said Williams. "You're taking two years and your jamming it into 12 weeks."
Seven EMTs from the most recent graduating class are from Buffalo. AMR offers the program free of charge but it costs the company about $1,000 per student.
"I actually had to do a rescue. CPR with chest compressions and everything," said Williams. "I was thrown right into it in my second day."
Maxian said in a state with 20 million people there are only 60,000 certified providers.
"New York State over the last 15 years the number of certified providers has dropped by 10 percent," said Maxian.
AMR is also looking to add more paramedics to the team. Their training is a year long.
"Paramedics do a lot more advanced assessments and treatment like cardiac monitoring," said Maxian
Right now AMR has 400 certified providers. EMTs start at $13 an hour and paramedics start at $16 an hour.
AMR has also reduced its service area.
Maxian said, "by reducing our footprint and increasing our number of providers our service is going to be much more robust."