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Teen rescuers getting lessons in lifesaving

January 13, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - When the bay door rolls up at Community Rescue Service, three teenage volunteers there roll up their sleeves. They focus. Their lives are left at the base because the lives of others are at stake.

"The patient is the priority," said Brandon Bolyard, 18, an emergency medical technician and Highland View Academy senior.

Bolyard has been acquainted with the medical profession since he was a child. He was born with a serious heart condition and underwent two open heart surgeries before age 10, one when he was eight days old.

"It affected his heart forever," said CRS preceptor Barry Nicklesberg.

Bolyard wants to be a cardiologist.

"Paramedics make better doctors," Bolyard said.

He and EMT Kyle Minnick, 17, a senior at Smithsburg High School, are enrolled in a Maryland Fire and Rescue Association accelerated University of Maryland course at Washington County Technical High School. They received their EMT certification just after Thanksgiving.

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Michelle Hutzel, 18, graduated from high school one year early to enroll in Hagerstown Community College's paramedics program. She will receive her EMT certification in three weeks.

Minnick and Bolyard are going to enroll in HCC's program in August.

Nickelsberg watches over the three teens during runs where they can perform basic life support.

"We're giving them what they don't see in the books," he said.

Nicklesberg put a red foam clown nose over his own.

"These people are great technicians," he said. "What I'm teaching them is that they have to have great human skills."

He said he has watched Bolyard talk to patients with heart conditions, telling them that he understands what they are going through.

But humanity is perhaps the simplest lesson the young men and woman have been taught so far.

Minnick watched as a car accident victim died in the seat next to him as paramedics called the time of death. He sat holding a stethoscope, helpless.

"It was a lonely feeling," he said.

Hutzel said CRS is very supportive of the teenagers and their new experiences. She said she can talk to anyone about what she's seen, especially if it affects her.

"Blood's plenty of times an issue," Minnick said.

Compassion is never an issue.

Bolyard observed his birthday - Christmas Day - at CRS. He took a call in which a father experiencing chest pains had to be taken away from his family's holiday celebration.

"You're just thinking about the family and putting smiles back on their faces," he said.

Minnick said what keeps him going is not the glory of being an EMT, but the idea that he is supporting someone's life.

Bolyard finds the work rewarding.

"I get more out of coming here and helping than going with my friends to the mall," he said.

The three students, each of whom has less than two years of life-support experience, look forward to the day they're certified to ride in Company 75's heavy-duty life-support vehicle, which includes the "jaws of life" and other specialized rescue equipment.

"When everyone else is running out, we're running in," Hutzel said.

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