Valley High Senior journey to become an EMT

Published 10:20 am Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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Many people might feel stressed out or panicked in the middle of an emergency but to Kaydence Allen, that’s the best part of her chosen career. The Valley High School senior cannot wait to get into the back of an ambulance after recently completing a college-level course in EMT training last semester.

By the end of the course, Allen had become a Nationally Registered EMT. Now her health science teacher, Jennifer Williams, said if she ever finds herself in an emergency, she knows who she wants on the scene. 

“It’s been like a growing passion. That’s the only thing my mind is on now is being able to like go and get on an ambulance,” she said. 

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Allen, who had never really thought about the medical field before, began taking Health Science classes at the high school in her 11th grade and quickly developed a love for the field.  

“I enjoyed coming in here and learning every day,” she said. “It was actually something that like genuinely sparked interest and attention for me.”

In LaFayette and Valley High School, students can take​​ a Certified Nursing Assistant course or a Patient Care Technician course in their senior year and test to get certified. The CNA test is an Alabama Department of Public Health certification and the Patient Care Tech test is a national test. 

In addition to SUSCC, health science students go to East Alabama Medical Center-Lanier to do clinicals. Williams said she has also found partners from Etherton Family Dentistry, Riverside Vet and local pharmacies to take students interested. 

“The opportunities are there with these partners if the students are interested in taking them up on it,” Williams said. 

During the summer, Allen and her classmates got the opportunity to earn their EKG technician certification at Southern Union State Community College.

Jennifer Williams, Allen’s health science teacher, said the course helps students build confidence in their abilities and gets them comfortable in the college setting. She said she has had a lot of success with the program. Last year, Allen and another student passed their certification exam for EKG Technician. 

“Once they get their foot in the door, they love it and can keep going,” Williams said.

SUSCC has many opportunities for dual enrollment for health sciences from EMT to Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certifications. Williams said Anthony Caldwell, who oversees SUSCC’s health science dual enrollment program, is always partnering with the local schools. 

“They do a really good job of bridging that gap of things that we can’t offer at a high school level, getting them prepared and getting them excited about healthcare,” Williams said.

Allen said that’s when she learned that if she kept going with the program, she could take an EMT basic course. At first, she was a little nervous about taking the more intensive college-level course. Allen has a lot of first responders in her family, and her mother encouraged her to go ahead with it. 

“She was like, that’d be like a great path to go down,” she said. 

The course met three nights a week for four hours, which was a big commitment. On top of that, she would have to find a way to juggle her normal classes, band, clubs, and her job. But Williams knew that if any student was up to the task, it was Allen.

“Kaydence is probably one of the most enthusiastic students I’ve ever taught,” Williams said. “… She is genuinely excited about this career path, and she’s gonna be great. Whatever she decides to do.”

“Looking back at it now, I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know how I managed everything,” she admitted, jokingly.

In truth, the course taught Allen more than just medical emergency skills. She also learned to be more organized and to work hard to reach her goals.

“It was a lot faster paced,” Allen said. “But then as I got more comfortable with going, it was like, we would learn something in there, and then I would be able to come [to Health Science class] and apply it or I would already have the knowledge of what we would be learning.”

As a part of the course, Allen and her classmates had to do clinicals, which meant actually getting in the back of the ambulance and going on rides. As soon as the sirens came on, she remembered, she began to feel the excitement mounting. 

“I love fast-moving, I love not knowing what’s going to happen next or what you’re going to show up to,” she said.

Still, the course is much more intensive and requires a lot of research and study. Allen said for once, the work didn’t feel as much like work because she knew that this was the future she wanted to pursue. 

The next stop for Allen is the Advanced EMT course, and then she wants to become a paramedic. Ultimately, one day she wants to train to get on a helicopter as a flight medic.