Zoe Blackwell ’23 was 9 years old when she first saw an episode of “Rescue 911.”
“It seemed so interesting to me,” she recalled of the television series that featured reenactments of real 911 emergency calls. Today, Blackwell knows from firsthand experience the sense of urgency that comes from responding to calls for help. She drives an ambulance and works as an emergency medical technician for Greenville County Emergency Medical Services.
“It’s a fun and exciting thing I can do on weekends to expand my knowledge and help me grow as a person,” said Blackwell, who has not yet declared a major but is leaning toward studying biology. Working as an EMT is motivating her to pursue pre-med prerequisites at Furman.
“I have my first biology class this semester, and I’m enjoying it so far because I have this base of knowledge,” said Blackwell. “All the biology I’m learning I can easily apply to all the basic medical knowledge I have.”
After watching “Rescue 911,” Blackwell continued to build her medical knowledge by watching documentaries and realistic videos. She even read medical and anatomy books for fun.
Blackwell is used to balancing her studies with her interest in emergency medical care. While a student at Wade Hampton High School in Greenville, South Carolina, a teacher told her about an EMT program for high school seniors offered at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. Soon Blackwell was attending high school classes in the morning and the EMT course in the afternoon.
“I’ve always planned on going the medical route, but I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do. But I knew you could get your EMT certification once you were 18,” she said. “That seemed like a good way to get into the field and get some experience.”
Lauren Payne, director of the Malone Center for Career Engagement, said part-time jobs can provide students with a valuable opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom while gaining practical experience and test-driving potential career paths.
“Many graduate programs in healthcare, such as medical school, require that applicants complete clinical hours to be accepted into their program,” she said. “Part-time jobs, shadowing and volunteer service provide students with an opportunity to acquire these hours.”
Blackwell earned her EMT certification last summer and started working for Greenville County EMS in December. She works two 12-hour shifts per week.
While on the job, Blackwell answers a variety of calls, including those for heart attacks and cardiac arrests, strokes, overdoses and car wrecks.
“It gives me direction and purpose,” she said.
But most of her calls are less critical and often involve those who don’t have access to health care and call 911 to take them to the emergency room for the treatment they need.
“Everyone thinks it’s cool that I’m able to do it,” she said. “It’s something that I think would be very helpful to a lot of students, especially pre-med students.”