EMT training added to high school career and tech program

By Ruthann Carr, Correspondent

Two teens prepared to apply a traction splint to the leg of a young girl.

It wasn’t the real thing, just a demonstration.

Fluvanna High School emergency medical technician (EMT) students explained the proper procedures and the reason for each step. Teacher Stephanie Corbin stood silently by as they worked.

Corbin, a Culpeper native who taught EMT and paramedic classes in Loudon County, is teaching the first two classes of 17 students who hope to join the ranks of rescue squads.

Matt Kolezynski, 17, is already a junior firefighter with Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire and Rescue (LMVFR).

“My dad was a firefighter on Long Island and it was the only thing that held my interest,” Kolezynski said. “Because I’m already a firefighter I wanted to expand into rescue.”

Shortly after a unit on signs of cardiac arrest, he went on a run with LMVFR. The patient was having chest pain, and watching the EMT and paramedics assess and treat the patient brought it all back to Kolezynski.

Corbin said that kind of reinforcement is vital.

Her background is in journalism and she was an editor in Culpeper when 9/11 happened. All of her EMT and paramedic friends went to the Pentagon to help treat survivors. Because it was the biggest story in the nation, Corbin had to stay at the paper and couldn’t go with them.

But it confirmed for her that she needed a career change.

Corbin wanted to use her skills and become a full-time part of the excitement, camaraderie and medical expertise of the rescue community.

“I’m a big advocate for the importance of getting people hooked at a really young age,” Corbin said. “They’ll stick around and hopefully volunteer in the community – this area is struggling to get volunteers – before they get full-time jobs as an EMT.”

The Fluvanna fire and rescue community has embraced the program.

Gloria Vest, a long-time Kents Store Volunteer Rescue Squad member, helped coordinate equipment donations to the program.

Corbin said so far they’ve gotten a stretcher, two Kendrick Extrication Devices and several plastic bins full of airway and trauma treatment supplies. Fellow teachers have donated motorcycle, bike and football helmets.

Andrew Pullen, Kents Store Volunteer Fire Chief, Fluvanna School Board member representing the Columbia District, and full-time firefighter in Spotsylvania, is thrilled students can now get EMT training in high school.

“As we see a sharp decline in volunteer firefighters and EMS providers across the country (Fluvanna County being no different) it is essential for us to recruit new members while they are young adults,” Pullen wrote in an email. “Not only does this provide for a line of succession in our local volunteer agencies, but this training could prepare them for a rewarding career as a fireman or in the healthcare field. I personally started taking night classes for EMT and firefighter I when I was a student at FCHS, but they were not affiliated with the school. Those classes prepared me for the workforce as a career fireman soon after I graduated.

I’ve now been a career fireman for 14 years and it is without a doubt the best profession in the world.”

Fluvanna High School EMT students recounted Pullen’s talk with them during one class.

Brianna Fisher recalled Pullen’s story of going into a building on fire. It was his partner’s first fire. Once inside, Pullen said he realized his oxygen tank wasn’t working. They were on the second floor of the building.

“He was trying to get her (his partner’s) attention and finally got to a window, grabbed her and threw her out the window (onto the ladder) then threw himself out,” Fisher recalled. “He was unable to breathe but he got his partner out first.”

Teamwork in a crisis helping others seemed to be the energy fueling the students.

Alexis Hamshar, a senior, said she hopes to go into the medical field and work in critical care areas. She took the nurse’s aide class, “but it didn’t hold my interest as much.”

EMT students will move on to their clinical training in the next month and will be ready to take the EMT test in December, Corbin said.

Many of them already have their applications in to volunteer with local squads.

Pullen said he hopes this class is the beginning of stream of young people volunteering.

“We have an active junior firefighter-EMT program in Kents Store with six members and are always recruiting more,” Pullen said. “They are required to maintain good grades, no disciplinary issues, with approval from [Principal Margo] Bruce and their parents. Mike Sheridan supervises the junior program.

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