HOLMDEL, N.J. - These kids are lifesavers… literally. The Explorer Program of Holmdel’s First Aid Squad allows high school juniors and seniors to accompany first responders on emergency calls, whether they be motor vehicle crashes or drug overdoses. These students, however, do not simply sit and watch. They partake in the action, taking vitals and completing critical documentation (all done under EMT supervision, of course.) 

I was able to sit down with First Aid Squad Chief Chris Trischitta and some current Explorers to learn more about this impressive program. 

The Explorers are chosen by a selective application. Only ten to fifteen students are admitted each year. From there, the Explorers are required to attend a Blood Borne Pathogens Course and gain a CPR certification for BLS professionals before they are allowed to accompany EMTs on calls. 

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The firsthand accounts of these calls left me impressed, not only by their intense nature but also by the skill and professionalism demonstrated by high school students. Jack Page, a senior at the Academy of Allied Health and Science and the liaison officer for the Explorers, recalls an emergency he assisted with at earlier this year. A man had started seizing, and while the other EMTS began treatment, Jack was tasked with operating the bag valve mask. “I was literally breathing for this man,” he said, “It was such a surreal experience.” Katie Wolff, a senior at Holmdel High School and the first lieutenant for the Explorers, was called to assist on a drug overdose. As a certified EMT, she was able to administer Narcan to the patient—a nasal spray used to combat narcotic overdoses. Christine Shelton, EMT, a senior at Holmdel High School and the captain for the Explorers, recently put her CPR skills to good use when she administered chest compressions on a patient. 

These are a few examples of the Explorers’ poise and medical expertise. Explorers work in four hour shifts and must complete fifteen hours by the end of the month. Chief Trischitta notes that most Explorers surpass the minimum hour requirement— a testament of their dedication to their community.  

This dedication is not limited to emergencies. The Explorers also participate in many community events. They host an annual Rig or Treat event where children get to learn about the ambulance. They also attend Holmdel Day to make sure the event is safe and enjoyable. 

All the Explorers feel that the program has been a valuable and unique part of their high school careers. In addition to their exposure to the medical field, they have been able to aid and become more involved in their community. 

If you would like to be a part of the Explorer Program or donate to the Holmdel First Aid Squad, visit http://holmdelfirstaidsquad.org