EMS High School
It’s not every day that you run into a 40-year-old EMS agency that’s fully staffed 24/7 with volunteers. Add to that the fact that the 68 first responders are all high school students, and you have a truly rare if not one-of-a-kind organization. Welcome to Darien (Conn.) Emergency Medical Services Post 53.

Post 53 is staffed and run by high school students who start their four-year position with the post in the summer after eighth grade and receive their EMT-B certification in their junior year.

The “Posties,” as they’re called, respond to EMS calls in one of three ambulances, followed by an adult EMT-I in the post’s fly-car. If ALS care is necessary, a paramedic is available from nearby Stamford.

The Posties comprise the board of directors, make purchasing decisions, set up schedules and conduct training. They even provide the training that local police need for their annual CPR recertification.

During the day, when the Posties are in school, “fly ladies” man headquarters for first calls. If a second call comes in, on-duty students leave school to respond.„

One of the fly ladies is Dennis Cummings, the director of the post. Cummings says one issue that comes up is teaching the adults to allow the Posties to run the agency. “These kids are very responsible and take their jobs seriously. At the station, they’re kids, playing Guitar Hero. But when the tones go off, they change. You can see it in their eyes. Suddenly, they’re professionals.”

After 40 years, Post 53 is still Darien’s only EMS service. These young adults mature while contributing to their community and learn self respect the old-fashioned way by working hard and succeeding.

Ambulance Manufacturer Plays Santa
SJC Industries in Elkhart County (Ind.) played St. Nick this year in a big way. Employees fulfilled the Christmas wishes of almost 70 people with special needs at ADEC (Association for the Disabled of Elkhart County) community residences.

SJC President Chuck Drake says although the companyƒwhich manufactures McCoy Miller, Marque and Premiere ambulancesƒhas been involved in Boys & Girls Clubs, they’ve never done anything quite like this.

Drake’s daughter, Shantil Knepper, a supportive-living nurse at ADEC, called her father to see if the two of them could get some items on the ADEC clients’ lists. Drake took it a step further and asked plant and shop employees if they would like to get involved.

“Three ladies in the shop took off,” says Drake. They shopped, solicited, bagged and wrapped gifts for several days. Despite shaky economic times, employees made their own financial contributions. Then they reported to Drake, “We’ve got the list covered.”

The efforts went far beyond what either Drake or ADEC expected. Knepper says, “Everyone_s still giddy around here.”

Drake is pleased that his employees seem to have taken their mission statement, “Living our core values to create value for you,” that extra step. He says, “That you can be a lot of people, beyond our customers.”

Amid national dialogue about corporate greed, it’s encouraging to hear about a business that looks beyond the bottom line.

No Defibrillator, No Stethoscope, No Service
When investigators from the Michigan Department of Community Health inspected Island City EMS’ ambulance fleet following complaints, they didn’t just issue a couple fix-itsƒthey immediately shut down the private agency that services the Eaton Rapids and Barry County areas and revoked its license. The service, which has only been in operation for 16 months, racked up more than 30 violations: an exhaust leak in the patient compartment, no proof that EMTs and paramedics were certified, no oxygen masks or stethoscopes and a non-working defibrillator, among others. A spokesman for the department of health said it’s the first time they’ve had to shut a service down on the spot. We hope it’s the last time, too.

Hospitals Implement Their Own ALS Response Teams
Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, Calif., is just one of many hospitals around the countryƒindeed, around the worldƒimplementing internal rapid response teams (RRT). The makeup of RRTs differs between hospitals. Some respond with a registered nurse and a respiratory therapist, or an RN and an intensivist. Tri-City uses ICU nurses.

Their team of 17 rapid response nurses (RRN) cycle through shifts so there_s one available 24/7. When a floor nurse or family member sees signs of deterioration, they can call on an RRN to come check on the patient.

The RRNs get called about 100 times a month. During the rest of their shifts, they review patients’ charts for telltale signs of trouble ahead. They visit the floor nurses to discuss charts and may check on individual patients.

The hospital has seen a drop in code blues since activating the RRNs. Before, Tri-City was experiencing six to seven codes outside the ICU each month. Since implementing the response program internally, Tri-City has been averaging only one to two code blues a month. JEMS