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Dukes to the Rescue
By John Huffman
JMU Students at the Harrisonburg Volunteer Rescue Squad. Picture by Shuoda Wang for JMU Technology and Design.
Lights, sirens, and serving the community are all parts of a typical day for senior Health Sciences major David Krajewski. David joined the Harrisonburg Rescue Squad as a sophomore. At the time, he was very new to his major and needed to find a way to get patient care hours to prepare for graduate school. The Harrisonburg Rescue Squad provided those hours but also provided him with much more. “No where else can you get the patient care hours you need for graduate school while making such a positive impact to the community,” David says. “The rescue squad gave me a way to practically apply the things I was learning in school.” He hopes to use the skills he gained from the experience in the near future when he pursues a career as a Physician’s Assistant.
When he joined, David only had the basic CPR training required to be a part of the rescue squad. Since then, he has been given the opportunity to enroll and take part in classes that expanded his medical and leadership skills. The Harrisonburg Rescue Squad helped him complete his EMT basic course and now he is working on Advanced Life Support training. “We always train for the hardest circumstances, so that when we have something happen in real life we can handle it,” David says.
Upon arriving for a typical shift David and his team check the trucks and equipment, making sure that everything is ready to go out on calls. After that, they might work on getting a new member up to speed, work on their own training, or spend some time on the station's amazing leather recliners. “Some of it is downtime,” David comments, “but the rest is training and running calls.”
The Harrisonburg Rescue Squad receives a very high call volume: it is projected to meet or exceed 8,500 calls for service this year — an average of over 24 per day. The station is uniquely situated between a busy interstate highway and a college campus. It is also not far from the more rural areas surrounding Harrisonburg. Because of this, the station is prepared to handle a wide variety of calls. No matter what call David goes out on though, a certain work ethic remains. “You always make sure that you are doing the best job for the patient no matter what the circumstances are,” he says.
The station is 100% staffed by volunteers and many of those are JMU students. The squad is a community, and some of those volunteer members, who are also JMU students, come back to help out from time-to-time even after they graduate. David considers the Harrisonburg Rescue Squad to be a defining part of his experience at JMU. “The rescue squad is an excellent place to come to get outside the JMU bubble,” David says, “It’s a wonderful place to meet people and to get involved in the community.”
To learn more about the Harrisonburg Volunteer Rescue Squad, visit their website rescue40.org.
You can see more pictures of David and the Rescue Squad at the University Unions Flickr collection.