BATH - Fifteen officers were awarded state emergency medical technicians certification Thursday as part of Steuben County Sheriff Jim Allard’s initiative, which calls for his entire department to be certified by 2020.

Allard said Steuben County deputies are often the first of the scene, especially when in rural areas.

“Typically we are the first on the scene,” Allard said. “We can stabilize the patient and keep the patient alive until the ambulance gets there to transport. It only makes sense to have the deputies certified EMTs.”

In recent years, deputies have been credited with saving lives through those certifications.

Steuben County deputies, investigators and jail correction officers now receive annual training in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and the use of automated external defibrillators through the EMT program. 

Allard said they also are certified in administering narcan, a medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdoses.

“Our first class of EMT instruction will be completed today,” Allard said. “The deputies and (jail) correction officers that went through the program not only successfully completed the program, but the entire class in the practical exam were successful on every single component the first time.”

Allard said it is amazing to him how much effort and dedication deputies and correction officers put into the program.

“They took the written exam and everyone passed, many in the 80s or 90s on the New York State exam for EMT,” Allard said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of the deputies and the (jail) correction officers for putting in their time and effort to achieve this.”

Ross Zastrow, a state Emergency Medical Care Health Systems Specialist, said when he first met with Allard and Steuben County Undersheriff John McNelis one comment made continues to stick in his mind.

“I’ve repeated it ad nauseum at many places that I’ve visited because I think it is the epitome of what’s happened here,” Zastrow said to a crowd moments after the officers were awarded state EMT certification. “It’s a shining example of what should be happening across the state. The sheriff (Allard) looked at me and said we in Steuben County believe this, we are emergency services.”

Allard said we have three different different facets within that but we consider the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office one family.

“We work together as one family. That is the crux of what (people) see here today,” Zastrow said. “That’s what sticks in my mind and I use this program when other (state) counties come to me and ask what can we do. This is where I point. Congratulations to all of you.”

Deputies who recently completed the EMT program are Jim Allard, John McNelis, deputies, Kenneth O’Dell, Joseph Winters, Brandon Martin, Andrew Hawk, Brooke Payne, Erica McCoy, sergeants Matthew Sorge and Vincent Fanzo, correction officers, Virginia Carter and James Towner and investigator Brandon Brown.