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SCOUTS LEARN HOW TO RESPOND; EXPLORERS JOIN PARAMEDICS.

Byline: Gloria Gonzales Daily News Staff Writer

It's tough to become a member of the Boy Scouts' American Medical Response Paramedics Explorer Post.

Contenders looking for a challenging introduction to the work performed by ambulance paramedics have to pass a test of physical strength and agility - and be able to spout facts about cardiopulmonary resuscitation and airway obstruction.

``In addition to a regular final they have to complete a physical agility test, which has three parts,'' said Lou Manzano, a paramedic who along with two others leads the program. ``First, they have to run up and down a flight of steps carrying a drug box - they have to make it up and down three times within five minutes. Second, they have to perform five minutes of CPR on an adult model, and third, they have to show that they can help lift a loaded gurney from an ambulance.''

Seventeen Explorer candidates passed both parts of the test Thursday night, and next week, a commencement ceremony will be held before they begin ride-alongs in ambulances.

``The average grade-point average for these kids is about 3.8. These are smart kids who will be instrumental in our community one day,'' said Manzano, who earlier this year reworked the program curriculum, strengthening academic and attendance requirements. ``That's why I'm involved . . . the sheer pleasure of working with these kids, who I believe will return to also give something back to this community.''

The program began two years ago when two paramedics, Robert Schneider and Carolyn Giguere, paired with the Boy Scouts of America to form an Explorer post at the American Medical Response depot in Newbury Park. In the first year, the program did not include a rigorous academic curriculum.

When management and personnel changed at American Medical Response in Ventura County, the program was in danger of folding unless new paramedics agreed to not only take over the program, but develop a formal academic curriculum.

``And these three paramedics came forward and really went to bat for the fledgling program. Those of us who had already been through the program were so grateful, they really fought for us,'' said Nhi Le, a 17-year-old senior at Royal High School who has volunteered in the Explorer post in recent months.

Le completed the new course as well and will continue volunteering under the new program.

``The company was worried about the liabilities associated with having us on the ambulances, and they were going to shut the program down,'' she said.

But the three paramedics, Manzano, Jonathan Luskin and Matthew Shapiro, agreed to develop a curriculum and oversee the program, and the company managers agreed to a 90-day trial. That trial ended this month, and American Medical Response agreed to continue the program which will allow some 20 young people ages 16 to 21 to assist licensed paramedics in real-life emergency situations.

``They've decreased the size of the program and raised the standards,'' said Brian Ranger, the company's operations director for Ventura County. ``And our management has been very impressed with the level of commitment and professionalism of these three . . ., so impressed that we've renewed our commitment to the program. There was a lack of program leadership, and these three really stepped in to fill the gap.''

The new program gives youths a solid introduction to emergency medicine, as well as real-life emergency experience, Manzano said. ``It's by no means as thorough as the course required'' for certification to become a paramedic ``but it does provide an introduction to emergency medicine and gives them the opportunity to get out there and experience these real-life situations.''

Manzano said he hopes the program will introduce young people to health care careers.

For Le the experience - which has included responding to serious traffic crashes - has reinforced her desire to become a physician.

``They stress discipline, responsibility and professionalism. When we go out to a scene, there may be someone dying, there may be a lot of blood, there may be distressed family members . . . and we learn how to act in these situations,'' Le said.

Le, Manzano and Ranger also noted that the Explorers continue to follow strict guidelines to ensure both their safety and the safety of patients.

``We are never to touch a patient, or even touch a gurney loaded with a patient,'' Le said. ``Our job is to help the paramedic. We run back and forth to the rig, we carry things for them, we run back and forth with bandages.

``And they stress overall scene safety. If we go to a scene and someone is high or behaving erratically . . . or in any situation that could become dangerous, we go and sit and wait in the back of the rig,'' Le said.

Graduates of the program have gone on to college or paramedic positions with American Medical Response.

``I had been volunteering for two or three months when the company asked me if I was interested in (paramedic) training. I said yes, and they even paid half the cost of my training,'' said Nick Cleary, who began working as a paramedic for American Medical Response this month after completing his training at Simi Valley Adult School. ``I learned so much through the program. I really learned how to work as part of an emergency team. I'd jump at the chance to go back and help at the Explorer post.''

To apply for the program, candidates must submit a resume, a list of references and high school or college transcripts. Candidates will also be interviewed by program directors. Once accepted into the program, Explorers must pass all tests with a B average and must maintain good attendance.

For more information about the program, call the American Medical Response offices at (800) 404-1222 and ask for the Explorer Post voice-mail box.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

PHOTO Robert Welsbie loads a gurney into an ambulance as part of the American Medical Response program for Explorer Scouts.

Gene Blevins/Special to the Daily News
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 14, 1997
Words:992
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