COLONIE: From canyon to suburb

Park rangers will be riding with Colonie paramedics this fall to complete paramedic certification.

Colonie's department of emergency services is taking in three National Park Service rangers from the Grand Canyon National Park beginning in October. The clinical affiliation agreement is between the town and Northern Arizona Healthcare, the hospital system out of Flagstaff, Ariz.

They run a paramedic program that many forest rangers with the National Park Service go through. They ride in ambulances and participate in patient care. It's the final step before they get their certification, said Jon Politis, emergency medical services chief.

Politis has had a longtime working relation with the park service and rangers at the Grand Canyon in particular, where he has trained as well.

The town extends the same affiliation agreements to area hospitals and colleges. The program allows paramedics-in-training to get hands-on experience in patient treatment, said Politis. All National Park Service rangers are required to get the paramedic training and certification. Coming to Colonie will only be a portion of their training.

They are expected to complete about 80 hours, or two weeks on the road with Colonie EMTs. In addition, rangers will also spend the same amount of time at larger cities such as Miami or New York, he said.

The three rangers coming this year expressed an interest in riding along with Colonie paramedics.

"It speaks highly of our EMS department that they would send them here," town Supervisor Mary Brizzell said.

The National Park Service likes to send the trainees to places that have big EMS departments and have many calls in a given week, she said.

The program also allows Colonie's paramedics the opportunity to get a taste of other departments throughout the state and country.

"It's a good experience for them. It's a great two-way learning experience," Politis said.

The Grand Canyon is the busiest federal park in the country, said Politis. Daily, rangers respond to emergencies such as search and rescue, people falling into the canyon, heat emergencies and rafting accidents. Their experiences help Colonie paramedics develop their skills and vice versa.""

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