UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Samantha Hall wore a black T-shirt with her friend's name in red lettering for inspiration before taking a test that will determine her future as an emergency medical technician. That friend's life was cut short in a car accident in 2011.
"I do think I'm ready to take this test," said Hall, 17, of Trotter. "I'm excited. I want to be an EMT because I want to help people."
Hall was among 38 students on Tuesday at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, who were taking the Emergency Medical Technician National Registry practical test.
"It's not a job, it's a calling," said Sherry Nicholson, Emergency Medical Services program coordinator at Penn State Fayette.
Hall said she was motivated by the death of her best friend, Nick Habina, to become an EMT. She said Habina, 18, died May 31, 2011, in a car accident in Donegal.
"That tragic accident inspired me to pursue this career," Hall said. "I thought about that as I prepared, not only for the classes that I took, but for this test."
The practical test consisted of seven stations with mannequins and live "victims" to recreate scenarios in order to test the students on real-life situations.
"I'm not scared at the sight of blood, but I am scared to see someone I know who is hurt," Hall said.
Holly Medlick, an EMT for Fayette EMS, painted her hands with fake blood and blisters to simulate what would happen if someone grabbed a live electric wire.
"I'm happy to be here because I think the students need our help," Medlick said.
Each student must pass seven stations before they are allowed to take the Pennsylvania state EMT written test. After passing the practical and written exam, the student becomes certified as an EMT. Penn State Fayette is the first regional training center in southwest Pennsylvania to offer the test.
"This test is absolutely important," said Aaron Moreau, an EMS instructor. "This is the test that determines whether they become an EMT or not. This is the test that allows them to get into the trucks."
Moreau works as a paramedic for the Marclay Community Ambulance Service. He recalled an accident where his medical training made a big difference in one woman's life. Moreau said the woman was hit by a car.
"When we got there, she was lying on the ground face-up and non-responsive," he said. "We employed basic life-support precautions to keep her alive. If I hadn't learned that, like these students today, then things might have been different. If I twisted her the wrong way, she would have had a broken neck."
Moreau is a seasoned veteran as an EMT and paramedic with more than 10 years of experience as a first-responder.
"A lot times, these are life and death situations," he said. "That's why it's important to know what you are doing. This training minimizes the mistakes and perfects the skills needed to be an EMT."
Information from: Herald-Standard, http://www.heraldstandard.com/