• Buzz From The Hive

First Responder Training for The Trail and Life

(L to R): Camila Calle ’26, Glenn Cassidy, Ed.D. ’90, Charlize Graham ’26 and Essence Hogue ’26.

Essence Hogue ’26 decided to become Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) certified so she could work The Trail and provide medical assistance on the five-day, 55-mile trek along the Appalachian Trail, if needed. A few days into the EMR course, Essence realized something else. “It’s more than re-walking The Trail,” she said. “What I’m learning in this class, I’ll carry forever. I’ll have the ability to save someone’s life, forever.”

EMR certification through the American Red Cross has come a long way since Glenn Cassidy, Ed.D. ’90, Director of the Fr. Mark Payne Institute, established an evening/weekend first aid course for students in the late 1990s. The move to block scheduling and longer class periods in 2007 paved the way for EMR training to become a formal elective. 

“The idea for the course came about in order to have older students trained medically to serve as first responders on The Trail in the event someone is injured or falls ill,” Dr. Cassidy explained. Interest became so great that Dr. Cassidy had to limit enrollment. This year, he taught the EMR course twice; 20 students from the Boys Prep Division enrolled in the fall and 26 Girls Prep Division students took the Winter Term class.

Either help or do nothing 

One of the first rules students learn is, “Either help or do nothing,” because serious incidents require cool heads. “You learn how to size up an emergency, how to protect yourself on the scene and how to protect the patient,” said Essence. “You need to make sure it’s safe for you to enter a scene because the last thing you want to do is create more patients.” 

The expectations are rigorous. “It’s the same course that professionals in healthcare, public safety and law enforcement take,” said Dr. Cassidy. Students learn a myriad of medical skills, from how to lift and move patients to performing the Heimlich Maneuver and CPR. There is a written exam requiring a score of 80% or higher to be eligible for certification.

Dr. Cassidy estimated that 20 of the 46 EMR-trained students will serve on The Trail. “We don’t need 20 first responders,” he noted, but there are plenty of jobs EMR certified students can do, like teaching first aid to freshmen in the lead up to The Trail and other roles. 

Essence said the EMR course has given her a lot to talk about with her mom, a nurse, and family members who work in the medical field. “My mom is happy,” she shared. “[Emergency medicine] is a topic we both understand. And the fact that I know more about her job and what my mom does every day, it’s meant a lot to her.” Essence highly recommends the course to Gray Bees: “Geometry and English, those classes matter, but EMR is something I’ll always take with me. Regardless of where I go, I’ll have it.” 

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