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High-school heroes: when emergencies erupt, a squad of teen responders is ready.

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Seventeen-year-old Dan Connell is taking notes in history class when his beeper goes off. Dan drops everything and rushes out during the middle of his teacher's lecture. In most schools, his action would land him in detention. But Dan's teachers excuse his behavior. That's because the high-school senior is an emergency medical technician (EMT), and he's off to help victims at a crisis scene.

If the idea of a teen EMT sounds strange to you, it doesn't to the residents of Darien, Connecticut. The town's only ambulance service--Darien Emergency Medical Service (EMS)-Post 53--is staffed and run by teen volunteers.

The "Posties," as the volunteers ate called, got their start in 1969. Back

then, 40 high-school students learned first aid and drove a donated telephone truck to emergencies so they could help people in need. Over the years, the volunteer team grew into a squad of highly trained emergency medical personnel who rush to the rescue in three state-of the-art ambulances. Although adults--community volunteers and Posties who return after graduation--serve as advisers, the teens run the show.

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MAKING THE CUT

Training begins when freshmen sign up for a three-month class to learn first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a procedure for reviving a stopped heart or lungs). Tania Bello, now 16, took the class because she thought it would help her as a baby-sitter. She says, "From there, I just loved being in the organization because it's fun and you learn so much." About 15 freshmen make the cut to continue their training. Those who qualify join the ambulance crew as helpers who carry equipment.

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After an intense course as sophomores, 16-year-old Posties take state exams to become certified EMTs. Tania, who says she's ready for her exams, assists EMTs such as Dan by taking patients' vital signs, including blood pressure and pulse rate. Patients can be sure they're in good hands, because Datien EMS-Post 53 requires that its EMTs score far above the state minimum for the course. Adviser Susan Warren adds, "The Posties have an unbelievable background of responding to emergency calls and a tremendous amount of patient contact by the time they graduate from high school."

TO THE RESCUE

Posties' tuff includes a dangerous stretch of Interstate 95. Dan reports that when they arrive at accident scenes, a common reaction from out of-town travelers is to ask: "Who ate these kids driving the ambulance?" But patients quickly see that the Posties know their stuff.

The challenges of being a teen EMT include balancing Post duties with schoolwork, and leaving in the middle of parties or important projects when the beeper sounds. But the Posties take their duties seriously and have used CPR and other skills to save lives. Tania and Dan agree that the rewards of helping people far outweigh any challenges that come with the work. Dan says, "When people look you in the eye and say, 'Thank you,' it really makes you realize that what you're doing is worth it."

The average person may never rush to the rescue on an ambulance, but there's one thing Dan and Tania urge everyone to do: Take a CPR course. Dan points out that when a person survives cardiac arrest, a condition in which the heart stops suddenly, it's often because a friend, family member, or nearby stranger knew how to perform CPR. "It only takes a few hours to learn," he says. "And it pays off in huge ways if you ever have to use it."

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To learn more about the Posties, check out: www.post53.org

PRE-READING PROMPTS:

* What do you know about the work of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) from television and other media?

* Can you think of some real-life situations that would require the services of EMTs?

* What kind of qualifications does a person need to become an EMT?

DID YOU KNOW?

* The Posties of Darien, Connecticut, take on many duties. They drive the ambulances, work in the radio room that receives calls from those with medical emergencies, and help teach first-aid courses. Every Postie receives more than 150 hours of training before turning age 16.

* According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for EMTs is strong. This field is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2016.

CRITICAL THINKING:

* EMTs are trained to recognize the symptoms of various medical emergencies and know how to respond. Do you know the symptoms of a heart attack, a broken arm, or a sprained ankle? First, write down what you think are the symptoms of these conditions. Then do research and compare your answers with your findings.

CROSS-CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS:

LANGUAGE ARTS: Divide the class into groups. Have each group write a script for an episode of a TV show that focuses on the work of EMTs. Instruct students to do research to make sure that the actions of the EMTs and the medical conditions featured in the episode areas realistic as possible. Then, as a class, read each group's script out loud.

RESOURCES

* For information on how to become an EMT or a paramedic, visit this Web site from the U.S. Department of Labor: www.bls.gov/oco/ocos101.htm

* The Web site of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians has extensive information about the work of EMTs. Visit: www.naemt.org/

* Visit the Web site of the National Emergency Medical Services Museum Foundation at www.nemsmf.org

* You can download EMS, a magazine about emergency medical services, at this Web site: www.emsresponder.com/publication/

DIRECTIONS: Answer the following questions in complete sentences.

1. How did the Posties originate?

2. How does a high-school student train to become a Postie?

3. What is cardiac arrest?

1. The Posties originated in 1969. In that year, 40 high-school students from Darien, Connecticut, learned first aid and drove a donated telephone truck to emergencies so they could help people in need.

2. To become a Postie, a high school freshman can sign up for a three-month class to learn first aid and CPR. Then, about 15 students from the course qualify to continue training. During their sophomore year, the selected members take a more intense course. They also join the ambulance crew as helpers who carry equipment. Finally, the students must pass a state exam to become a certified EMT.

3. Cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart stops suddenly.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:LIFE: HEALTH; Posties
Author:Adams, Jacqueline
Publication:Science World
Geographic Code:1U1CT
Date:Oct 6, 2008
Words:1072
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