Editor’s note: This story corrects the length of commitment required for the scholarship. We regret the error.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Mahoning County commissioners made a move Thursday to help bolster the county’s emergency services roles.

They presented $400,000 in local American Rescue Plan funding to the Fire Chief’s Association. It will underwrite a scholarship program to help recruit new EMTs and paramedics and have them trained.

“Some of the classes cost $2,000 to $5,000, and if it has to come out of the students’ pockets just to be able to have this job, it’s, this is a huge advance for us,” said Beaver Township Fire Chief Larry Sauerwein.

“It’s gonna take the load off these students. It’s gonna take the load off the fire departments. We need to get people educated so they can go out and provide services to residents of Mahoning County,” said Green Township Fire Chief Todd Baird.

As part of the program, those recruits who complete their training then agree to serve at least two years with a local fire department or ambulance company.

While local officials say the funding will help provide additional manpower, they admit EMS services are expensive and insurance reimbursements fall far short of the actual costs — leaving tax dollars to make up the difference.

“Another leg of it has to be that, we have to try to find a way to quit asking taxpayers for money but do more with less,” said Ellsworth Township Trustee Art Spellman.

Trustees and commissioners say they could use more help from Columbus.

“We just need to be on them every single day to ensure that they know that this is a major priority, which they do,” said Austintown Township Trustee Robert Santos.

In the meantime, the first recruits to be trained under the program should be ready this summer