Hillary O’Neill ’19 works with the EMS once a week at a five hour shift and then signs up when she’s available and when the program is short-staffed. She is currently an Emergency Medical Responder, meaning she can’t go on the calls alone. Instead, she assists the Emergency Medical Technician until she completes her EMT certification.
“My mom was an EMT in high school and loved the impact she was able to make,” O’Neill said. “She encouraged me to do the same, and I’ve found how rewarding it is myself.”
Michael Burns is a volunteer EMT who was also one in high school. Now that his kids have grown up, he has decided to continue his service at the Westport EMS.
“I’ve lived here for 25 years and I felt it was time to give back to the town,” Burns said. “The more we can get the word out, the better off we all are.”
An EMR is between the ages of 14 and 16 and then once they are 16 they can take the EMT class to get their certification. To become an EMT, a candidate must complete somewhere between 120 to 150 hours of classes, fulfill ridetime requirements with the ambulance, as well as pass the practical among other prerequisites. The classes have two sessions per year which include meeting Mondays and Wednesdays 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m and then occasional Saturdays for laboratory practical work from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
“I decided to get involved with the EMS because it was a way that I could help other people while also finding a hobby,” Jaime Bairaktaris, another member of the program, said. “My favorite part is being able to go into something as uncontrolled as an emergency scene, and know how to make it better.”
There are six paid members of the Westport EMS including four paramedics and two EMTs whose salaries are paid by the town. Any additional staffing is filled by volunteers and any equipment for Westport EMS is bought by donations brought in from the volunteer organization.