Two students share their experiences riding in an ambulance
January 9, 2022
In Westfield High School’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) class, students can choose to ride along in an ambulance and use their knowledge to save lives.
The EMS class teaches students about urgent medical treatment. It provides the opportunity to apply their knowledge firsthand and help real people in emergency situations by assisting paramedics in an ambulance for a full day. Lewis Kaufman (11) and Caren Boulos (11) shared their experiences in this program.
These students took the class because of their passion for medicine. While the students may have different visions of what their futures would look like, both clearly have helping others in mind.
“I was interested in the medical field, and would like to continue down that path if I enjoyed the class… [which] I have so far,” Kaufman said.
Those with a focus on specific career paths also take the class. It prepares students to interact with real patients in medicine.
“I want to become a cardiovascular surgeon,” Boulos said. “I thought taking EMS would get me ready for the patient care part of the health field.”
Even with their aspirations, providing life-saving emergency care is a large responsibility for high school students. Given the urgency and wide variety of emergency situations, there is little room for error.
“I was very excited… but I was a little nervous about the possibility of having to deal with something serious,” Kaufman said. “I didn’t want to have to save someone from a car crash on my first ride; that’s a lot of pressure.”
Despite the skills that students possess, the gravity of real emergencies can still be unnerving.
“I was very anxious and scared about not being prepared enough to treat the patients properly,” Boulos said.
In the ambulance, however, the students felt it became easier to focus on responsibilities. They are not forced to work entirely alone, either.
“The EMTs I was with were really helpful and supportive,” Boulos said. “They walked me through everything before their shift started.”
The schedule of the work was also surprising, with long periods of downtime at the station.
“I got a total of six calls the whole twelve hours, but they were very spread out,” Kaufman said. “I watched an entire Ohio State football game between two calls.”
Unfortunately, these calm periods are often interjected by grave danger.
“We arrived on scene to a man lying unconscious and not breathing on a sidewalk in a local neighborhood,” Kaufman said. “He had overdosed on drugs and needed help fast. One of the EMTs said I could give him rescue breaths with a bag valve mask, saving his life.”
The ambulance ride was an eye-opening experience for these students. They believed the difficult situation would give rise to nerves.
“I thought it would be a lot of pressure, but when I actually started treating patients, I wasn’t focused on being wrong or messing up but more on giving them the best care I could give,” Boulos said.
Besides the hands-on practice of medicine, the ride also provided a chance for reflection and a rejuvenated sense of gratitude.
“I was very humbled from this experience,” Kaufman said. “We’re lucky living where we are, and some people are not as lucky. I saw lots of different people and different injuries, and realized how lucky I am in life because I have been blessed with a lot that most people do not have.”