Ben Davey’s gap year

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Ben Davey works as a volunteer EMT. -Courtesy Ben Davey

Every year The MV Times asks several recent high school graduates to write about their experiences during their first year after graduation. Ben Davey is a 2016 graduate from MVRHS. He is taking a gap year to work as an EMT.

It’s already October, and it’s just starting to hit me how it feels like I’m the only one from my graduating class who’s still on the Island, even though I’m not. The summer flew by, and between work, family time, and fun, the “goodbye time” of late August and early September arrived too fast for my liking. I was seeing many of my good friends get on the ferry and head off to college to start the next chapters of their lives. I, on the other hand, had no plans to leave Martha’s Vineyard this fall. Instead, I’ll be learning through hands-on experience and working for the Island’s volunteer ambulance services as an EMT.

The year was 2007. My family and I were in a small skiff headed from Eastville Beach around the jetty back to the Lagoon landing after an afternoon of swimming. Out of nowhere, a jet ski with two young boys came up beside us and, having no control over the watercraft, they turned right and went over the top of our skiff, injuring my mother, father, and brother. The immediate response from off-duty lifeguards and EMTs, and the rapid emergent response of Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven emergency personnel, was amazing. The paramedics, EMTs, and police helped keep my brother and me calm as we were loaded into an ambulance. That’s really what made me want to enter the field of prehospital care — I want to help people and have the same effect on them as those emergency responders had on me.

My journey began back in November 2015, when I enrolled in the EMT-Basic course held at the Tisbury fire station. The class runs annually, usually January through late May, two nights a week for four hours. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to pile all this on top of my normal school workload during senior year in high school. Through the support of the other 20-some-odd pupils in the class, coupled with the support of the Island EMS departments and our instructors, we completed the course and practical examinations, and one by one began to pass our national EMS examinations. Taking mine in June, I was in the first half of my class to take it. If you want an indication as to how stressful this exam was, I’d choose to take the SATs again rather than this exam if I had to choose between the two.

Passing the skills exam and knowledge exam was only the first step in becoming an Island EMT. This summer, I’ve been training as an extra rider on Tisbury and Tri-Town, and recently became a call member on Edgartown and Oak Bluffs. Each town, while staffing ambulances similarly, has a different orientation packet and process for new EMTs to work through before they can be cleared as a full-fledged member of the EMS squad. Honing skills and always keeping your mind open to learn makes ride time like EMT school all over again, in the sense that you take your textbook knowledge and mesh it into how it actually works in the real world. It’s a lot to take in, and has been a bit overwhelming sometimes, but the chiefs, coordinators, and other squad members are always answering my questions and making sure I’m figuring things out. I definitely wouldn’t have made it this far without everyone’s help and patience, and I’m sure all new EMTs feel that way starting out.

I’m looking forward to the year ahead and finding out what the fall and winter have in store for me on the Island. Through the first month of my gap year I’ve already gained so much knowledge I wouldn’t have obtained in a classroom setting, and I’m excited to learn more as the year progresses.