Student-Athletes at R.I. University Also Get EMT Experience

Biology majors who will embark on futures in the medical field, Florent and Johnson serve as emergency medical technicians for the Massachusetts-based Brewster Ambulance Service.

by Scott Barrett, Newport Daily News, R.I. / April 23, 2019

(TNS) — For the past four years, student-athletes Lindsey Florent and Victoria Johnson have been wearing uniforms for their respective teams dotted with the blue and green of Salve Regina University.

When they're not representing the Seahawks, though, the seniors don another uniform.

Biology majors who will embark on futures in the medical field, Florent and Johnson serve as emergency medical technicians for the Massachusetts-based Brewster Ambulance Service.

"I wanted some type of hands-on experience in the medical field, just to bring what we learn in school to life and to help people," said Johnson, who will attend nurse practitioner school after graduating next month. "You're constantly learning things, and I think we're gaining the quickest exposure into our field of medicine.

"In biology, we just learn from textbooks a lot, and we don't get that hands-on experience. In this, we get the hands-on experience and we get the independence."

A member of the university's women's lacrosse team, Johnson started her path toward becoming an EMT in the fall of her sophomore year. She attended a class in Jamestown that required 12 hours of learning per week. She passed the various required tests and landed with Brewster.

Florent, a standout for the softball team who will attend physician assistant school, spoke with Johnson about her experiences and followed the same path. Now, they work as a tandem in helping people.

Johnson and Florent are based out of the Fall River, Massachusetts, location and during the school year work overnights on Sundays. They pick up extra hours during summers and breaks.

While they field a wide range of calls together, Johnson and Florent have their strengths and weaknesses, not to mention varying personalities. Florent says she's very detail-oriented, while Johnson flies off the cuff. They both drive the ambulance, depending on the call.

"We realize who is better at what, and we'll bounce off each other. It's a team effort," Johnson said.

Before she was teamed with her Salve Regina classmate, Florent received a startling introduction to life as an EMT. A man was attacked by a pit bull, with the animal sinking its teeth into the man's leg.

"It was pretty crazy because his whole thigh was just kind of hanging there, and I had to wrap it up," she said. "That was my first week."

They also recalled a situation in which they were returning from Boston, where they had transported a patient, and came across a five-car pileup on a major highway. Per state law, they said, any first responder must stop at the scene of an emergency.

Johnson and Florent called 911 and started to check on those injured in the crash. They were late for their 8 a.m. class, but had a pretty good excuse.

EMTs should be prepared for any situation, and Florent and Johnson make sure they are.

"On the way there, we read through our protocols and make sure that we have everything we would need for that particular call," Florent said.

An outfielder from New Bedford, Massachusetts, Florent has been a major contributor to the softball team since her freshman season. She is a career .339 hitter with 44 stolen bases and has appeared in 150 games.

Johnson, a native of East Freetown, Massachusetts, didn't make an immediate impact as a defender with the lacrosse team, but has been a starter for the past two seasons.

"She has worked her way into that role," Seahawks women's lacrosse coach Bill Villareal said of Johnson.

With a full class schedule, athletic commitments and their work as EMTs, Johnson and Florent have learned to manage their time well. Salve softball coach Janelle Iaquinto says she's amazed by how much Florent can fit into a day.

"We got back from a game at 9 o'clock on a Sunday night and she's sprinting to her car to get to her other job," Iaquinto said. "She had been up since 6 a.m. That was impressive. I don't know how she does it, but she does it."

Iaquinto said it's not surprising Florent would want to help others as an EMT.

"Always puts everyone before herself — her teammates, her family. She's an amazing young woman," the coach said.

As their respective collegiate athletic careers wind down, Johnson and Florent said it's a bittersweet time. But they're excited about what the future will bring, and are thankful for the opportunity they've received to get a head start in the medical field.

"It's an adrenaline rush," Johnson said when asked why she enjoys being an EMT. "You're showing up to something and you're helping people. There's a spirit of humanity that comes with it. When you have someone in the back of your ambulance, they're asking for help, and it's raw human emotion."

sbarrett@newportri.com

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