La. scout group gets firsthand look at EMS jobs

By Emily Kern Hebert
The Advocate

BATON ROUGE, La. — Since the age of 10, Cody Favaro has dreamed about becoming a paramedic. Now, five years later, he is spending his summer riding on ambulances as a trained emergency first responder.

Favaro, 15, is one of the youngest of 25 students to be trained this year by Emergency Medical Services of Baton Rouge as part of a Boy Scouts program that allows high school students to try out various careers.

The teenagers are called Explorers, and any business or government entity can sponsor an Explorer Post.

Careers that may have Explorer programs include police, fire/rescue, health, law, aviation and engineering. Even zoos and scuba diving businesses can sponsor a post, said Andre Toups, a shift commander with EMS and the EMS Explorer Post adviser.

"The point is to give young adults experience in that field," Toups said. "It also helps them with working together as a team."

Favaro said he would watch ambulances speed by and think about the opportunities to help people.

"That's what triggered it for me, the fact of helping injured people," Favaro said of his desire to become a paramedic. "I see it as a way to do good and help the community."

Favaro will be a freshman at Catholic High School this year. He began his training at the age of 14 when he was in eighth grade at St. Thomas More Catholic School.

Toups said he typically targets students ages 15 to 18 for the program.

Many teens aren't mature enough at 14, Toups said, but an exception will be made if the student has a high maturity level and turns 15 during the training, he said.

"Our business can be very serious. I need to know these guys can handle that," Toups said.

"Cody is one of those kids who is very sure of what he wants to do in his future," Toups added.

The EMS Explorer Post program started in 1983, Toups said. Most of the students who participate are interested in a career in the medical field.

The students take an eight-hour CPR course and a 48-hour emergency first-responder certification course similar to what firefighters and police officers take, Toups said.

They learn basic first-aid techniques, CPR and how to ready patients for transport by an ambulance.

After the classroom training, the students are able to ride along on an ambulance during shifts with two other trained paramedics. They help treat patients up to their training level, Toups said.

Many of the students have gone on to become physicians, trauma surgeons, nurses, firefighters or paramedics, Toups said.

Others learn they don't like being around sick people, he said.

Recently, the EMS Explorers provided medical care for a Boy Scouts camp at Camp Avondale near Clinton. They also planned to provide extra manpower at several events during the Fourth of July weekend.

"It gives us a little manpower, but even more, it gives the kids the practical experience of taking care of people," Toups said.

For the remainder of the summer, Favaro plans to ride 12-hour daytime shifts on an ambulance.

"This is all volunteer work," he said.

Favaro said the experience has only added to his desire to have a career in the medical field.

"What haven't I worked? I've seen heart attacks, strokes, heat strokes, motor vehicle accidents," Favaro said. "You go into EMS, you can't be grossed out about stuff."

Favaro said he is considering getting his paramedic license so he can work as a paramedic during college.

"That's if I'm not burnt out by it," he said. "My ultimate goal is to go to medical school."

Favaro's parents are supportive of his plans.

"He's young. He doesn't even drive," his mother, Dana Favaro, said. "When he found out he could take that class there was no stopping him."

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