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Teens Help, Heal, Lead at EMS Service

A call comes in: Someone's hurt. Jamie McEwan, Kevin Cassidy and Jack Johnston rush to the scene, assess the situation and rush her to the hospital. Then they have to go home and finish their homework. All are members of Post 53, Darien's only EMS service, run almost entirely by high school students.

"It's their organization," said Joan Gildea, an adult adviser. "As adults, we don't vote. We can advise the young officers, but the bottom line is the young adults run it." Post 53 began in 1970 with Bud Doble and a single van run out of his basement by teens providing backup to the police medical service. Eventually, Post 53 took on more responsibilities until becoming the only ambulance corps when the police phased out its service in the late 1980s.

As its role has grown, so have its resources. Post 53 now has three ambulances, two fly-cars and a facility near the Noroton Heights train station. Though the town provides some support, most of Post 53's funds come from fundraising, especially the annual Food Fair every Memorial Day , as well as from donors.

"Posties" can begin training as soon as they enter high school, starting as dispatchers, then moving up to responders and drivers as they take EMT courses. Post President Grant Nelson said the education is one of the best aspects of the program "We have seen kids go on to become doctors," he said. "It can be a great start to the medical world."

The pressure of being an EMT is intense. But Jamie and Grant said they maintain composure by staying relaxed and confident. They work with the other team members to complete their jobs safely and quickly. "We're all one big family here," Grant said. "We look out for each other."

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