Summer Journeys: Vincent Chen ’24, EMT

Vincent Chen ’24 with his hiking boots, part of his mandatory EMT uniform. “I realized just how important this piece of the uniform was when we had to lift and carry a patient up a slippery, muddy hill.”

Vincent Chen’s summer journey started well before the summer of 2023. Now a senior, Vincent began preparing for his work as an emergency medical technician (EMT) during his junior year at Taft.

“I saw the sign on my way to Taft every morning: ‘Sign up for EMT classes!’ When I couldn’t restrain my curiosity any longer, I called,” says Vincent. “They asked how old I was; fortunately, 16 is Connecticut’s EMT age threshold.”

Vincent spent four months during his junior year training to be an EMT. It was no easy feat: On top of his demanding course load, commitment to Taft’s arts programs, and music training and performances off campus, Vincent chipped away at the 150 hours of mandatory class time and 28 hours of in-person skill training required for EMT licensure.

“The in-person skill training included learning how to insert oropharyngeal airways, conduct a medical assessment, apply a traction stint, use a tourniquet. I also had to earn CPR certification,” Vincent notes. “At the course’s end, I had to take the Connecticut state psychomotor skills and national registry knowledge exams to get my license.”

License in hand, Vincent spent last summer on the job working 12-hour shifts as an EMT. A medical first-responder, Vincent cared for patients on-scene, and performed necessary medical interventions while transporting patients to the hospital. His ambulance team typically included one EMT and one paramedic. 

“When a call came through the pager, something like, ‘Dispatch Medic 4 to a 50-year-old—that’s a five-zero—female in respiratory distress at 101 Baker Street,’ we would don our boots, climb into the ambulance and race off down the street,” Vincent explains. “Sometimes when we arrived on the scene we would be briefed by police or firefighters first. Otherwise, we would directly treat the patient and transport them to the hospital if necessary.”

Vincent’s shifts began at 6:30 am with equipment checks—making sure the ambulance was tidy, the tire pressure was on point, and that the lights and sirens were in proper working order. And then, the anticipation: Vincent typically responded to around seven emergency calls during each 12-hour shift. Each call presented a unique set of challenges, Vincent notes, much of it requiring not only the application of the knowledge and skills acquired during his training, but the ability to think clearly, remain calm, and effectively triage each situation.

“Through my work as an EMT, I’ve learned the importance of compassion—of always thinking of the patient, even under the stress of providing treatment,” Vincent notes. “Knowing that I have had a direct and positive impact on an individual and on community health is very, very rewarding.”