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Trained to deal with emergencies, student EMTs utilize compassion in assisting community

| Tuesday, February 25, 2020

When the Notre Dame Fire Department (NDFD) is called to action, a specially trained group of students is not far behind.

Known as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), these students work with NDFD for on-campus emergency situations and engage in activities ranging from dorm life to greater community involvement.

Junior Killeen McCans is one of such students, with the group numbering about 10 this semester. 

“A lot of students don’t really know what we do or who we are at events,” McCans said.

EMTs work special activities with NDFD, such as interhall athletic events, the Holy Half race and any boxing event in which individuals are sparring.

“We’re often mistaken for athletic trainers, which is a totally different profession with a lot of different qualifications and classes and exams that they have to pass,” McCans said. “We’re really trained to deal with emergencies.”

EMTs are also working on the job at larger sporting events, such as football or women’s volleyball.

“It’s been a really unique way for me to interact with the Notre Dame community that’s a bit different than how most people interact with it,” senior EMT Hannah Martin said.

There are many ways people can become involved with the national EMT program. McCans got her certification in high school, while Martin got her certification in college.

“I wanted to be a firefighter in high school and I debated doing that instead of going to college,” Martin said. “But I decided I wanted to go to college because I wanted to go to med school. Overall, definitely the right decision for me, but freshman year, I discovered that we had a student EMT program on campus … so the summer between freshman and sophomore year, I got my EMT certification.”

McCans said she has learned many valuable practical skills as an EMT, such as knowing what to do if someone’s heart stops beating or if a child is choking.

The EMT position also teaches numerous interpersonal skills, she noted.

“You’re often placed in very stressful situations or high-tension situations, and so it taught me a lot about navigating conflict between people [and] how to be a calming presence for someone,” McCans said. “Being able to be with someone and be a calming presence in some of the most stressful moments of their life teaches you a lot about relating to people, a lot about compassion and empathy.”

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