Three local departments splitting over $300K in grants

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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) Williston Fire Department, Essex Rescue and Colchester Rescue crews are splitting more than $300,000 in federal grants to send seven people to paramedic school.

Local firefighters are using federal dollars to make sure when you call 911, the best team is ready to help.

Currently, all three departments run paramedic staffing, but they aren't staffed the way they would like with a paramedic on duty at all times.

Anthony Simanskas is one of two people from the Williston Fire Department looking to become a certified paramedic. Right now, he's one step below, at an advanced EMT. He says the training will put him in a better position to help his team and the people who call.

"Cardiac-related interventions and advanced airways stuff like that, so it's the top tier of the EMS spectrum," said Simanskas.

The program takes about 18 months and Simanskas and the six others will get their certification from Vermont Technical College.

It's the only school in the area that offers the training.

Williston Lt. Keith Baker says the grant is important because there aren't a lot of paramedics in the area because it's fairly new.

He says they've had people trained in life-saving techniques, but paramedics have only been in the area for seven years.

That means Simanskas and the other graduates can help save lives and help paramedics that are on shift now.

"Because it will put more paramedics into the system, so in theory even some shifts may even have two instead of just having one," said Lt. Baker.

Simanskas says he's excited to get his certification.

Right now he's looking to paramedics for guidance during the more challenging medical calls, but that will change.

"And when I become a paramedic, when I obtain my certification, people will start doing that to me," said Simanskas.

The three departments will be matching 10 percent of the $305,210.

Other agencies around the state received grant money as well including the Burlington Fire Department.