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Charlestown Ambulance-Rescue Junior Program
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By Board Member Sue Monroe
December 1, 2021

Charlestown Ambulance-Rescue Service Junior Program

The Charlestown Ambulance-Rescue Service’s Junior Program was started back in the early days of the organization and has played a pinnacle role in fostering the youth of CARS, developing its young members into vital fixtures of the community ready to serve its people. Many volunteers who started in the Junior Program are still active members years later; while others got their start in emergency medicine at CARS, which helped launch them into successful careers in Fire, Police, Nursing, and other medical and emergency response professions.

Potential Junior members can join the program as early as 14-years-old, allowing them to gain invaluable exposure at a young age and figure out if the field is right for them. Junior members serve as aides that assist providers on calls and are entrusted with tasks such as retrieving equipment off the truck, assisting with stretchers, and more. While there are parameters on what calls Junior members can respond to, the young volunteers are trained thoroughly on all equipment and supplies and CPR certified. Once Junior members age out of the program at 18-years-old, those with high school diplomas can become certified Emergency Medical Technicians through the State of Rhode Island Department of Health and apply for the National Registry EMT.

The CARS Junior Program is a unique program not offered by any other departments in the area, and some Junior members travel from as far away as East Greenwich to participate. In addition to it being a rare opportunity for early exposure and firsthand experience in the field, the program serves as a stepping-stone to the EMT class. It provides its young members with valuable insights, skills, and field hours. There are currently 11 members in the program.

“The Juniors are a true asset being an extra set of hands on calls,” says Lieutenant Kevin Quirk, Junior Program Liaison.

One such Junior member is 17 year old Luke Mead, a Charlestown resident and Senior & student athlete at Warwick’s Bishop Hendricken High School. Luke plans to attend Bryant University where he’ll major in Biology and play lacrosse. The youngest of 3, Luke’s interest in the medical field runs in the family with his mother working as a school nurse, an aunt as a Nurse Practitioner, another aunt as a nurse and two uncles who are doctors. In addition to his regular Saturday night shift at CARS, Luke works several other jobs servicing the community. He joined the Cross Mills Fire Department at age 14, where he learned extrication skills, and also serves as a lifeguard for the Charlestown Parks and Recreation Department. In preparation for a busy summer season, CARS and Charlestown Parks and Rec lifeguards held a joint training, where Luke was in charge of the medical training for the lifeguards. In August, Luke and others received Commendation from the Charlestown Town Council for brave actions taken during the July 9th Tropical Storm Elsa where two swimmers were rescued on East State Beach. Luke plans to continue with CARS by completing the EMT class during his Senior Year and the Rescue Swimmer Program next summer. He says the people are the best part of CARS. “They are special and help you learn.”

Junior Program Liaison, Lieutenant Kevin Quirk, is one of those special people helping the young volunteers find their way in the field. A CARS volunteer for almost 4 years, Lt. Quirk took on management of the program after becoming a Lieutenant a year ago. He says his father, a retired Cranston firefighter, encouraged him to join CARS. Like Luke, Lt. Quirk is also the youngest of 3 and heavily involved in the community. An Eagle Scout, the Lieutenant partnered with the Ninigret Pond Salt Marsh Restoration & Enhancement Project for his Eagle Scout project, organizing work parties to plant marsh grasses in an effort to save the vital coastal habitat and endangered wildlife. A current University of Rhode Island student with future plans to attend Nursing or PA School, CARS has given Lt. Quirk the necessary experience he needs to pursue a career in medicine. He says he wants to continue volunteering and helping others in the community. “Every day is different,” he says. “You are always learning so it stimulates your mind. It’s also very fulfilling to impact someone’s life.”

The CARS Junior Program provides young, motivated individuals with a place to be introduced to the medical field, learn life lessons and develop friendships that last a lifetime. A fundamental component of CARS, the program supports the longevity and success of the Department as it continues to add dedicated volunteers for years to come. Not solely a benefit to the Juniors; Charlestown residents and visitors benefit from the passion and commitment put forth by the program’s youngest members. If you’re interested in the CARS Junior Program, please click here to learn more and apply.

Hyperlinks: Become a Charlestown Ambulance-Rescue Service Volunteer!
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