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JEMS.com Editor's Note: A new group of students involved in the Junior Paramedic Program graduated July 11, 2008. Learn about this program below.

For a group of high school students in„Honolulu with an interest in emergency medicine, paradise just got more exciting.

Forty-five high school students are currently enrolled in the Junior Paramedic Program implemented by the City and County of Honolulu Emergency Services Department and Emergency Medical Services Division. The program is an intensive summer training course open to teenagers aged 14 through 18 who have completed their freshman year in high school.

The four-week course involves almost 120 hours of various practical, leadership and team-building activities. The Junior Paramedics learn medical skills necessary to provide basic first aid, as well as cervical spinal immobilization, oxygen administration and advanced bandaging. They apply their knowledge and skills during outdoor hikes that include "patient" encounters.

The students also participate in field activities with other public safety agencies. The train in water rescue with Ocean Safety Division lifeguards, rappel with Honolulu Fire Department rescue specialists, study laws affecting teenagers and learn arrest tactics with Honolulu Police Department officers, learn about hazmat and automobile extrication with Pearl Harbor Federal Fire Department paramedics, and study C-17 and aircraft rescue with Hickam Air Force Base Fire and EMS paramedics. Straub Clinic and Hospital, a sponsor for the program,also presents training in the cardiology and burn specialty areas.

Beyond this training, the Junior Paramedics learn life and career lessons by attending a special presentation by the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine. The focus of this event is twofold: drug awareness and career choices in the medical field. Although the two topics may seem unrelated, the teens learn about the negative impact of drug abuse and the positive impact of a career in the medical field.

Upon successful completion of their course, Junior Paramedics receive certification from the American Heart Association in Basic Life Support Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Basic Heartsaver First Aid, and DOT Standard First Responder.

So how did the program get started and how successful has it been in the long run?

The program began in June 2005 with a class of 21 students ranging in age from 14 to 18 were enrolled in the program. Paramedic Ian Santee developed the program and serves as the coordinator under the guidance of the chief of EMS (myself) and Director Elizabeth "Libby" Char, MD.

In 2006, the program grew to 25 participants from all over the island. This year, the class size nearly doubled, with many other requests wait-listed.

More important than the growing popularity of the program is its lasting effect on the students. After graduation, the teens remain active by volunteering hundreds of hours in community service. They_re regularly called upon to provide ambulance demonstrations, blood pressure screenings and basic first aid at various community events around O_ahu.

Two of the original Junior Paramedics (from the class of 2005) participated in the program for their third year. One Junior Paramedic assisted in the emergency delivery of a baby in the car en route to the hospital.

In June 2007, the City and County of Honolulu EMS hired our first Junior Paramedic "graduate" (from the class of 2005) after he completed the Kapiolani Community College-EMS Emergency Medical Technician program and became a certified State of Hawaii EMT-B. A second Junior Paramedic has been accepted into the KCC-EMS EMT program and begins classes in the fall. A third Junior Paramedic was accepted into a mainland university and will be majoring in EMS.

Overall, the program has shown young adults that EMS is an exciting and rewarding profession. With funding from various grants and with the volunteerism by EMTs and paramedics to mentor these students, Honolulu EMS looks forward to continued development and success of the Junior Paramedic Program.

Patty Dukesis the chief of the EMS Division within the City and County of Honolulu Emergency Services Department and is an EMS clinical adjunct faculty member at the University of Hawaii, Kapiolani Community College. She also serves on the JEMS editorial board. Contact her at„pattydukes@hawaii.rr.com.

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