Sixteen-year old Emily Stout is about to have an emergency. So is 17-year old Charlie Hannon, who wanted to get out of his biology quiz anyway, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports in this week's Assignment America.
The emergency is an elderly woman down — a possible heart attack. This is not a drill. This is not a course. This is what happens every time there's a medical emergency in Darien, Conn.: High school kids come to the rescue.
"We are trained the exact same way as every EMT in the state and around the country. We're just younger," Emily says.
It seems hard to believe. But Susan Warren, their adult leader, says the teenagers drive the ambulance and take care of actual patients.
So, how would you feel if a pimply faced teenager showed up to your next heart attack? Before you answer, you should know that an adult follows along on every call and trained paramedics are always available if needed. But generally, the kids do all the work — and by all accounts, they perform remarkably well.
Charlie says he thinks he's even saved a life. "Early this week, we were there, they were breathing, they had a pulse and then all of a sudden they lost their pulse. We began CPR, and within four minutes they had their pulse back," he says.
In fact, over the years they've saved hundreds of lives and delivered six babies. Fortunately, on this call, no heroics were necessary: The possible heart attack ended up being just a bad fall.
"I consider it a job I have to fulfill. If I don't, somebody's life is at risk," Charlie says.
Like many kids who pass through the program, Charlie plans to go to medical school and eventually become a surgeon. Of course, first he has to make up that biology quiz.