Western Albemarle High School Senior Kess Hutchinson loved his CATEC EMT course so much that he is taking the rare opportunity to return to CATEC for the 2020-2021 school year as an Emergency Medical Technician III student. EMT Instructor Cat Gardner says of Hutchinson, “he has an impressive work ethic and leadership ability that led me to ask him to return for the EMT III program, where he will earn all of his continuing education credits to maintain his EMT certification and will be an Assistant Instructor for the current EMT class.”
Hutchinson hopes he can tutor students on concepts and skills. He says of his willingness to help, “Since I went through the class last year, I understand what concepts the students will most likely struggle with. I hope to be able to communicate with Mrs. Gardner on what skills and concepts need more time to be practiced.” He says, “There is a lot of material to cover in the class, with all of it being absolutely necessary to understand. It can be very hard and overwhelming. I want to show this year’s students how to properly study the material and share ways I was able to learn the complex topics.”
The 18-year-old says that he became interested in taking the EMT class, a CATEC class that is offered on Western Albemarle High School’s campus, through another Western Albemarle teacher. When his friend hurt her arm, he wanted to help but wasn’t sure how. He asked the teacher for his advice on what the friend should do. The teacher suggested that if Hutchinson was interested in helping people who are injured, he should look into taking the EMT class the following school year. He liked the class immediately, saying, “I enjoyed just about everything the class had to offer. I thought the material was unbelievably interesting and it was all I cared to learn about in school.”
He loved the hands-on experiences the class provided. He says, “when doing scenarios, we were given access to all the equipment we might need and we were in charge. Being able to be in control of the situation and understanding that I would ultimately decide the outcome of the situation was a very cool thing for me. It allowed me to understand how important my role as an EMT is and it made me want to be as good as I could be.” Gardner says, “He always took the initiative to start getting equipment out as soon as it was lab time, and mastered his skills well enough and fast enough to be able to assist his classmates in mastering them as well. He was a key player in the class developing into a team, where every student was invested in each other’s success as much as their own.”
Hutchinson also loved going on his 30-hour required clinical rotations at the University of Virginia University Hospital Emergency Department and local ambulance squads. He says, “Clinicals allowed me and the other EMT students to experience what it was actually like to treat real patients. Throughout the whole process the staff explained everything that they are doing, in great detail, so you understand what is going on. It was an amazing experience and it showed me that I want to work in the field, treating patients.” Gardner says that it was this interest in the field that impressed her. She says, “Kess entered the EMT class with enthusiasm and drive, and neither of those wavered throughout the program.” Additionally, CATEC’s EMT program allowed Hutchison to earn 12 college credits through Piedmont Virginia Community College. He is certified in American Heart Association Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers (CPR/First Aid).
He also participated in CATEC’s spring SkillsUSA District competition, finishing in the top three. He says of the experience, “Being able to actually test our skills before the National Registry Exam was useful. It was the first time that we were tested on our skills and have it count for something more than a class grade. It was our first time doing our skills under pressure. It allowed me and everyone who participated to see what we really needed to work on.”
After graduation, Hutchinson wants to become a certified paramedic. He wants additional training so he can perform more advanced life-saving techniques and be able to administer additional medication. He plans to either attend Piedmont Virginia Community College next year, taking with him his dual-enrollment credits, or join a local fire department, which would allow him to take paramedic courses through the department. The Eagle Scout says, “I want the career that I choose to be something I can do that will help the most people and give back as much as I can.”