Junior paramedics learn what it takes to save lives
By Robert Shikina
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Robert Shikina
Strokes, chest pains, broken bones and traffic accidents are some of the emergencies a group of young teenagers are guaranteed to face while trekking down a Pali Lookout hiking trail on a typical Friday field trip.
The simulated life-and-death encounters are part of the training provided in the Honolulu Emergency Services Department's four-week Junior Paramedic program that gives teens a taste of what it's like to work in the medical emergency field.
Twenty-five teenagers are involved in the training, which runs through July 14.
The program is free for the students, but the training they receive could prove invaluable.
"That's 25 more teens that are trained in CPR and first aid," said Ian Santee, the program director and creator. "That way, they're a vital link in the first-responder community."
Santee said research by the American Heart Association has found that sufficient firstresponse training is the key for survival for victims involved in 911 calls.
"If somebody does participate and has to do CPR, first aid, it's usually on a family member they found," Santee said. "So having these kids certified and having them more aware gives them the opportunity to help somebody that is very close to them."
Thomas Yamamoto, a 17-year-old who will be a senior at Mid-Pacific Institute, said the training has been interesting.
"It shows the intensity," Yamamoto said.
The 2-year-old program uses a mixture of classes and outdoor excursions to give students an idea of how paramedics address injuries and accidents. Throughout the summer training, the teens also learn team-building and leadership skills.
Part of the reason the Emergency Services Department funds the program is as a recruiting tool, Santee said. They're reaching students who come from areas as diverse as Wai'anae, Nanakuli, 'Aiea, Kalihi and Kane'ohe.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for students to get involved, learn some lifesaving skills and check out a possible future career," said Elizabeth Char, City Emergency Services director.
Three paramedics and an emergency medical technician make up the teaching crew, along with volunteers from other emergency medical services.
"Our instructors show us the pace in which they work," Yamamoto said. "They're really proficient at what they do, so it kind of shows us how fast we have to act. It really helps."
On Fridays, the group takes hiking trips to practice the skills they learned in class. Along the way volunteers act out different injuries and the students treat them. Then they move on to the next scenario. Hikes for the group include Kaka'ako Waterfront Park, Judd Trail in Nu'uanu Valley and Pali Lookout.
"When we're put into the scenarios, it's kind of stressful because you're acting as if it was a real scenario and you kind of have to think fast, you can't be slow-minded," said Kilinahe Holt, 17, a Castle High School graduate. "It's really good because you get to experience how it would really be like if you were a first responder."
Windel Dayuha, 17, who graduated from the program last year and returned to help this year, said the field trips help the students learn to work together.
"They cannot just stand back and do nothing," she said. "They need to work as a team to help a person who is injured or hurt."
Yamamoto said the program also encourages him to become a leader in his community and gives him a good basis of medical information.
"My friends think I'm crazy," he said. "Some people don't understand why I want to spend my summer this way. They think it's just like a summer school, but it's more than that. It's more than just summer school. We learn life skills."
Reach Robert Shikina at email@example.com.