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Hoboken High School: Have Ambulance, Will Roll

New Jersey's Hoboken High School became one of the schools in the country to receive its own fully equipped ambulance last spring, donated by the Blairstown (NJ) Ambulance Corps. The 1993 Ford E350/Horton Mini-Mod rig will be used mostly for training Hoboken High's student emergency response team (ERT).

The team was founded in the wake of 9/11, after its faculty sponsor, the district's Coordinator of Service Learning, Joseph Miele, and several of his students volunteered at an emergency triage center set up in Hoboken's PATH train station in the crucial hours after the towers fell just across the Hudson River. The 18-year veteran EMT and lifetime member of the all-volunteer Blairstown Ambulance Corps set up the school's ERT as an after-school club where students could train in CPR and advanced aid techniques to become certified responders. "We knew it was a new world," says Miele, "and the students wanted to be ready for any kind of emergency."

When Miele heard Blairstown Ambulance Corps was looking to sell one of its rigs, he asked them to donate it to Hoboken High, says Blairstown's Captain Scott Durlester. "We had about five offers on it, but when Joe presented his proposal, it was unanimous - we thought it was a great idea." The students had participated in drills with the ambulance corps before. "They're a great bunch, and this is a good way to get kids started in EMS," Durlester says. The ambulance is fully insured, and the district has received a $26,000 federal Youth Organized for Disaster Action grant to keep it stocked.

Students in the Hoboken High School ERT receive over 50 hours of training and mentoring from the American Red Cross, the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps and staff at St. Mary Hospital, after which they are awarded responder certification with endorsements for CPR proficiency from the Red Cross. They participated in last spring's large-scale drill, TOPOFF 3, "working vital signs and everything else," says Miele, alongside the pros.

This fall, with 10 of its 15-member crew having graduated, the four-year-old ERT club is expanding into a full EMT training program. "Then the kids can start answering nonemergency calls with the school nurse. Once we get more certification, we can get that going," says Miele.

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