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Mini health career camp set for May 16 in Watertown

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WATERTOWN — Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization staff said it may be a good sign that they have to turn away teenagers from the agency’s annual summer health career camps. It means many youngsters are interested in exploring a health career.

The planning group now has an option for students turned away simply because there were not enough slots.

“We thought if we did mini MASH camps for specific careers, we could help more students,” said Yvette D. Pearson, the organization’s outreach coordinator.

MASH in this context stands for Medical Academy for Science and Health.

The group will offer its first mini camp from 5 to 8 p.m. May 16 in conference rooms B and C at Guilfoyle Ambulance Service, 1291 Faichney Drive. High school and college students are encouraged to attend. Applications can be obtained at school guidance offices and are due today.

Former Watertown Police Chief Joseph J. Goss, who runs the organization’s emergency medical services program, said the inaugural mini camp aligns with National EMS Week, May 18 to 24. He said many young men and women have yet to decide on a career path, and attending a crash course in specific health careers might help them decide on a goal.

“The whole idea behind this is we’re trying to get more volunteer rescue members,” Ms. Pearson said. “A lot of students also need direct patient contact hours. We thought, what better way than to join a rescue squad?”

Volunteer and paid squads alike are in need, according to Jefferson County EMS Director Charles F. Brenon III. The typical career of an emergency medical service provider, he said, is about seven years.

“A lot of EMTs that first take the course don’t recertify,” he said. “You have to recertify every three years. A lot of folks get into this when they’re young, 18, and then they got a family. Some drift away and get back in, too.”

Of his 120 EMS classmates who graduated from Jefferson Community College in 1979, only three remain in the EMS field, Mr. Brenon said. “We really do need more,” he said of a career that is often a bridge to other medical careers.

Regardless of whether participants in the mini MASH camp become EMS providers, Mr. Brenon said, it’s still a good idea to have emergency medical training. “It’s better to have training and not need it than to not have it and need it,” he said.

The EMS mini MASH camp will include a day-in-the-life story of an EMS provider, an ambulance tour, first-aid demonstrations and an explanation of the duties of a 911 call center. Pizza and refreshments will be provided.

Depending on how the EMS mini MASH camp turns out, Mrs. Pearson said the organization may schedule other mini camps on various health-related careers.

For more information, call FDRHPO at 755-2020, ext. 35.

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