Student EMTs make a difference in community

Firefighters, doctors and policemen are
only a few examples of the people who
sacrifice their time to protect us and sometimes
save our lives. CHS is proud to claim
multiple everyday heroes of our own—
Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT).

Many students are either in training to
become EMTs or are already volunteering
as ones here in Montgomery County. Being
an EMT is not just about the rush that comes
from saving lives, but also about the hard
work and dedication behind the scenes.

“The official job of an EMT is to be
the middle man,” said senior Sophia
Tapper, who is an EMT in training. “We
take patients from the place of emergency
to the hospital and administer
the appropriate treatments on the way.”

An EMT is placed in situations that
would be difficult for many people to
handle. The young EMTs of CHS are
exposed to scenes that may change their
perspective on life.

“The most important thing I have
learned throughout this whole process
is to live life to the fullest,” said
senior Ashley Farhat-Sabet, who
is an EMT on the Bethesda-Chevy
Chase rescue squad. “Seeing how
easily and fast life can be demolished
definitely makes me value my life a
lot greater.”

Jim Vagonis, the first Deputy Chief
of the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department,
acknowledges the lifelong impact
of being an EMT.

“[Trainees] come out of the class
with the skills that will change their
life,” chief Vagonis said. “They have
learned how to deal with life and death
situations in a calm, cool and calculated
manner. These are skills that can be
used in everyday life.”

Having a serious job as an EMT
can be a thrill, but it can also take a
toll on one’s social life.

“The training class you have to take in
order to become certified is 150 hours of lecture and hands-on class,” said EMT senior
Christine Vagonis, chief Vagonis’s daughter.

“I also have a 14-hour shift every week
on Fridays, and every six weeks I have
another overnight shift on Saturdays.”

According to Tapper, becoming
an EMT was a positive, life-changing
experience. Despite the crazy
schedule and the amount of pressure
she is under, she loves saving
lives and is dedicated to her work.

“I decided to become an EMT
because I wanted to do something
where I could get exposure but also
have the power to do something and
get hands-on experience,” Tapper
said. “It is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made.”

EMT Personal Stories

One of the scariest calls I went on was
dispatched as an injured person from a fall.
When we got on scene, the apartment door
was locked. The neighbors who had called
were outside, and the woman inside was
screaming at the top of her lungs. There
was no way to get in, so we had to knock
down her door. We later learned that she
had a disease called Multiple Sclerosis (MS),
and she had recently had brain surgery.
The woman was in the bathroom screaming
and would only let women in the room. She
was paranoid about skin showing and was
murmuring and yelling things that made
no sense. She was kicking, and we could not
seem to calm her down. It took a long time
to get her on the cot and out of the building.
While on the ambulance, she continued to
scream, and although she was wrapped in
blankets, she felt naked. We had about five
people holding her down, and we couldn’t
sedate her because we couldn’t reveal her
skin. She was having a psychotic episode
because she had not taken her meds. At the
hospital we stayed to help the nurses restrain
her as she was being sedated. As time progressed,
her hallucinations got worse. I had
never seen anything like it.
-Senior Sophia Tapper

The most memorable call I ever went
on was a drunk driving accident. It was
about 4:30 in the morning when the
tones went off. When we got to the accident
there were two cars, one completely
totaled, and another upside down. We
helped cut someone out of the totaled car
and back-boarded her because she had a
spinal injury. We started on our way
when the two girls we were transporting
both broke down in tears. As a standard
precaution we have to ask our patients
if they have any alcohol or drugs in
their system; the girl driving told us she
consumed quite a bit of alcohol. Once
we were at the hospital, the driver kept
asking me if everyone else was okay; she
kept saying if anyone died her life would
be ruined and she would never be able to
forgive herself. A few hours later I was
back at the same hospital and I checked
her bed, but she wasn’t there. I asked a
nurse where she went and she told me the
driver of the other car died, so the police
arrested my patient and took her away.
-Senior Christine Vagonis