Teenagers by day, heroes by night; students join the rescue squad

by Liz Duke
They can save a life or splint a broken arm. They balance  school,  a social life, and working as an emergency medical technician (EMT). Scotch Plains Rescue Squad student volunteers can be found learning in classrooms by day, and responding to emergencies by night.
Junior Grace O’Brien became a certified EMT this past summer to both better her community and prepare for her future.
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   “I chose to become an EMT because I have a passion for helping others,” said O’Brien, “I also want to do something in medicine, and being an EMT allows me to get a feel for what a job in the medical field will be like.”
O’Brien has also come to realize that she uses skills learned at EMT in her daily life.
“Being an EMT forces me to think quickly and on the spot, to work well with others and to always be prepared,” she said.
Senior Jenna Maizes has been a member of the squad since she was a junior.
“I ride twice a week for four hours at a time,” said Maizes. Volunteering has taught her how to stay calm in urgent situations.
“There are several different calls that I go on and they can involve situations such as an emotionally disturbed person, CPR, fall victim, overdose, difficulty breathing or childbirth,” said Maizes.
Her decision to attend Emory University next year was based on its medical program.
In order to become an EMT, students must undergo rigorous training.
“I had to do 190 hours of classroom work and 40 hours of online work from late August to Christmas in the beginning of junior year at Union County College in Plainfield,” said senior Andy Xu. “It was rough going, but Jenna and I took the class at the same time, and we made it through together.”
The certification process reflects the fact that students are responsible for their patients’ lives once they are members of the rescue squad.
“Being on the squad has changed my life because it allows me to  better Scotch Plains,” said Xu. “I am fulfilling my desire to serve the community.”