Life as an EMT

John Lye offers perspective on volunteer medical group

For John Lye, assistant chief of the Lake Monticello Rescue Squad, the thrill of being an EMT is unparalleled.

“There’s no feeling like saving a life — literally, so amazing,” he said.

The squad’s volunteers spend 150 hours training to qualify as an EMT at the basic level. First responders who progress to the intermediate, advanced and paramedic levels of qualification must complete up to 180 additional hours of training.

Once through training, the work is no less demanding.

“EMTs work 12-hour shifts, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. once a week, and an occasional Saturday,” Lye said. “They do an inventory check on the truck, [then] sit in and wait for emergencies. Some days you may get no calls or one call, but you have to be prepared when they come. In other cases, you need to be running.”

The EMTs’ extensive training allows them to approach emergencies with compassion and efficiency, Lye said.

“One year ago during a Saturday shift, the tones dropped for an address close by,” Lye said. “It was actually a friend. We were a basic level crew. We went over and found he had a heart attack. They started CPR and the medics came. By the time they got a helicopter he was fully conscious. He got stents put into his heart, and he is doing great.”

Charlottesville’s local team consists of about 85 EMTs of all levels and drivers — and the Monticello Rescue Squad boasts many University students among its volunteer corps.

In addition to providing a vital service to the community, EMTs gain experience working actively in a health care field.

“For someone interested in the medical field, you get a lot of patient interaction,” Lye said.

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