Meet South Branch Emergency Services Volunteer Kavya Famolar
Through SBES, she could start learning emergency medicine – and giving back to her community
By the time she passed her EMT class this summer, Kavya Famolari, 17, had already logged nearly two years as a South Branch Emergency Services volunteer.
Kavya knew she wanted a career in medicine one day and becoming an SBES junior cadet meant she could start gaining real-world experience at age 15. “Right away, I was learning a lot of things that I otherwise probably would not have a chance to learn until medical school,” she said.
Now 17, Kavya said volunteering has taught her more than she could have imagined about emergency medicine, helping people get through extremely difficult circumstances, and working as part of a team. She and her family had only recently moved to Lebanon when she joined, and SBES has also allowed her to learn about and become part of the community.
“I love every bit of it,” she said.
Making a Difference from the Start As a junior cadet, Kavya could not ride the ambulance, but she was able to train and participate in practice drills alongside more experienced EMTs, all of whom were happy to share their knowledge with her.
“SBES does a great job with training,” she said. “I was asking a lot of questions and everyone was super happy to answer them. It was so exciting and fun. And I participated in a lot of community events.”
On the Ambulance at 16 That training and mentoring from more experienced SBES EMTs gave Kayva a solid knowledge base and skill set for riding the ambulance once she turned 16.
“I would serve my shift after school. Going on calls, you never know what to expect – it’s always walking into a situation that requires on-your-feet problem solving, and that is a big adrenaline rush,” she said.
While Kavya could not yet provide hands-on patient care, she could use her training to determine what patients needed and what equipment and supplies her full EMT colleagues would need to provide direct care. “At a car accident, you have to think about what kind of devices are needed to safely extricate a patient – a backboard or a cervical collar, for example,” she said.
Kavya’s ability to understand what was happening and ready supplies and equipment meant faster delivery of care. “It made me feel useful and helpful,” she said.
In addition to the technical aspects of emergency medical care, Kavya has also learned to better communicate in all kinds of circumstances. “A lot of delivering care with SBES is about being able to talk to people, to comfort people, who are going through the worst of times,” she said. “Those kinds of interpersonal skills are always important.”
A Team of Teams Kavya enjoys the teamwork that comes from working as one member of a three-person ambulance crew. She was amazed the first time she was on a call that required a multi-agency response and proud to be part of it.
“There had been a motorcycle accident which required set up up a landing zone for a helicopter that would transport the patient,” she said. “All aspects of emergency medical service were involved – EMTs, paramedics, firefighters, and people in the helicopter. You really get to see everybody mobilize and work together.”
Kavya hadn’t yet passed her EMT course, but had an important role to play. “There was a lot of equipment and I helped keep track of that. People would ask for things and I would grab them. I relayed messages.” She was also given the important task of copying information from the patient’s ID.
What’s next As a Cadet EMT, Kavya is able to act as a National Registry EMT under the supervision of a more experienced EMT until she turns 18 and can earn her state certification.
She is now a junior in the Hunterdon County Vocational School District’s Biomedical Science Academy and hopes to one day become a cardio-thoracic surgeon. She also plans to keep volunteering with SBES even when in college. “I will come when I can and work when I can,” she said.
An experience she recommends to others Kavya recommends volunteering with SBES to people of all ages. “Training is free. It’s an exciting and rewarding experience and a great way to give back,” she said. To learn more, volunteer, or pursue a paid EMT position with SBES, please visit SBES365.org. Please note that at this time, SBES volunteers must be at least 16 years old.