As a prospective student of medicine, Zoe Jacobs was looking for more ways to get involved in the medical community. She had already done some volunteer work and shadowed doctors, but wanted more. She was particularly interested in taking an EMT course, but quickly realized that there were not many programs available to high school students. Zoe had a feeling that if she wanted to learn more, there were probably other students who were also interested. Rather than be deterred, Zoe reached out to Sergeant Scott Harding of the Greenburgh Police Department,and began the long process of creating a certification course to be offered at Irvington High School.
Zoe’s partnership with Sergeant Harding wasn’t by chance. Harding, an active educator for over 30 years, has taught at the Police Academy and the Fire Academy, and been an adjunct professor at the Westchester Community College. He even has his own business, Harding Emergency Services. When first approached by Zoe about the course, Harding says, “I was excited to do the program. As an educator, I have trained thousands and thousands of people in all of their emergency disciplines, so doing this with the high school kids, I thought it would be fun, especially with the type of kid we were looking for: committed, determined, and bright.”
After Zoe had secured the help from Sergeant Harding, and fellow school administrators, she was able to begin work on the grant application from the Irvington Educational Fund. While Zoe’s idea was born during her junior year, the application process, along with ensuring that appropriate insurance was obtained, took time. Now in her senior year, Zoe has been able to see her labors pay off, and is in the middle of the inaugural Emergency Responder Course offered at IHS. The course will be held once a year and the first began in October. It is held on Tuesday evenings and will span sixteen weeks, totaling 48 hours of classroom time. Students completing it will receive their Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) certification. Of the twelve students who enrolled, Sergeant Harding notes, “The kids that we have this year are really very good kids. Academically inclined, they are committed… they are working really hard. This is absolutely taking them out of their comfort zone, but they are really doing well.”
While the majority of students are interested in pursuing a career in medicine, there are others who do not necessarily want to work in the field, but recognize the importance of what they are learning. Zoe describes this as, “The comfort to know that if I am ever in a situation, that I can go out and be of help.”
Over the sixteen weeks, the course will include Professional Standards for CPR, the American College of Surgeons’ Bleeding Control Course, Z-Medica Familiarization Course, and Infection Control – Blood Born Pathogens. Each class is intended to be hands-on, and to incorporate real life experience, which is another reason why “we wanted to start small, we didn’t want this to be overwhelming … this is difficult material, and requires them to do their prep work. It requires them to read the chapters, there’s quite a bit of testing, so we had to choose the right kids to make sure they were going to be committed, because if they don’t maintain the academic requirements, we would have let them go” says Sergeant Harding.
The course does require a lot of the students, but Zoe and Sergeant Harding also want the class to be fun, and recognize that the participants have other commitments. For example, class was purposely postponed on Tuesday, January 21, to allow students to focus on their midterm studies. Their efforts have paid off, and Sergeant Harding, noting that the class is very engaged in the material, believes that “they have fallen in love with it a little bit.”
While Zoe will be moving on next year, she plans on helping with the grant application process again this spring, a task that will have to be done every year to keep the program going. Of her aspirations for the future of the program Zoe says, “I hope it continues to train more and more people, both in Irvington and the greater Westchester community because the skills that we are learning are so important and come in to use so often.”
Zoe has noticed that the course has sparked interest in the greater community, and suggests that one day it could include teachers and other members of the public. Until that point, if anyone is interested in learning emergency service skills, the Irvington Volunteer Ambulance Corps offers classes, as does the Westchester Community College.