Student EMTs get preparation for medical school at Duke

DURHAM, N.C. -- When she was younger, Callan Loflin thought she might have a career in golf. Then, something horrible happened on her family farm.

“My father was burned in a welding accident when a spark caught his clothes on fire,” she says about the event that left her father in the burn unit for three weeks. “Watching his healing process fascinated me and so a couple of months later, I went back into the burn unit and shadowed the burn unit trauma surgeon. That was just kind of the point in time that I really realized I had a passion for medicine and that that was what I wanted to do with my life.”

So she traded her golf bag for another kind, full of medicines as she works as a volunteer emergency medical technician at Duke, as she finishes her undergrad work there.

“These are our EpiPens, we have oral glucose, Afrin, Albuterol,” she says, as she takes inventory of the things she and her colleagues can use when they go out on calls.

“We’re in an on-campus apartment on central campus,” she says, pointing to spots on a map in their home base. “This is east campus, where a lot of freshman live, so we get a lot of calls here on Friday nights,” she adds, with a smile.

It’s real medical work which makes it great preparation for medical school.

“I think that it gives you a lot of perspective,” says the unit’s current director, fellow student Jeff Ord. “It gives you a chance to see medicine from a different side than most doctors do. We respond to upwards of 600 calls a year and I think about a fourth of those, we don’t have paramedics at, it’s us and maybe a nurse or something like that.”

Not needing to call paramedics to a fourth of the calls not only saves money, it frees those more highly-trained EMS personnel to work the more difficult calls. But that doesn’t mean the student EMTs can’t handle the big stuff when they have to.

“I think it was like one of those one-in-a-million calls,” says Ord about what happened one night in the Perkins Library on campus. See that dramatic story, in this edition of the Buckley Report.