In normal times, the government of Guam requires emergency medical technicians to present a chauffeur's license to be considered for the job. They also would need to go through a national certification process with the Guam Fire Department.

In the hiring by the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services of its own EMTs, the chauffeur's license requirement has been waived.

Public Health is in the process of hiring 10 EMTs, and the decision to waive the requirement was made because the department needs to supplement its Rapid Engagement Team testing staff, which is responsible for door-to-door COVID-19 testing, said Janela Carrera, spokeswoman for Public Health.

It was OK to waive the chauffeur's license requirement because the EMTs will neither be driving ambulances nor staffing ambulances, Carrera said.

The 10 EMTs Public Health is hiring will supplement the nursing staff conducting door-to-door testing for COVID-19, Carrera said.

This team conducted the testing in the area off Route 3 in Dededo and the Piga subdivision area, also in Dededo, on Sunday. The area has had COVID-19-positive cases, Carrera said.

The EMTs are being hired as "temporary COVID-19 employees," Department of Administration personnel services division administrator Shane Ngata stated in an internal email.

As temporary COVID-19 employees, the government of Guam is able to use federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, funding for the 10 EMTs.

The budget for the hiring and the date for the expiration of their employment as CARES Act-funded employees were not immediately available.

CARES Act funds, in general, must be spent by the end of next month.

Recruits will transition to GFD

Carrera said once CARES Act funding can no longer be tapped, the EMT recruits will be "transitioned" as EMTs with the Guam Fire Department. These recruits would then be prepared to pass the national certification process as part of moving their employment to GFD, she said.

It is unclear whether GFD will have the budget to absorb 10 additional EMTs.

Carrera said the 10 have been selected and their GovGuam hiring paperwork is being processed.

An "emergency medical technician-basic," according to a GovGuam description, "has a valid certificate issued by the Guam Office of Emergency Services, who has been trained in all facets of basic emergency care skills including automated external defibrillation, use of a definitive airway adjunct, and assisting patients with certain medications, and other training and certifications as required by the EMS administrator."

The Guam Fire Department has not had a role in the certification of Public Health's future EMTs. Public Health trained and certified its own EMT recruits to become emergency medical technician-basic, Carrera said.

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