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August 19, 2011

Va. student learns life, and death, lessons as an EMT

By Danielle N. Coley
The Virginian-Pilot

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Sprinkled somewhere in between her grueling school schedule and her hectic work life as a gym trainer and a Chick-fil-A employee, Kelsey Hottle finds time to volunteer as an emergency medical technician.

Since January, the Virginia Wesleyan College student has vigorously trained in the Virginia Beach Emergency Medical Services program. Depending on where the need is most pertinent, she splits her weekends between Fire Station 14 at the Oceanfront and Station 8 at Hilltop.

"I really love what I do as an EMT," Hottle said. "It gets nerve-wracking - sometimes, it even gets scary - but you kind of just grow into it, and I like the excitement of it."

Hottle, originally from Culpepper, came to Virginia Wesleyan after a recruiter visited her high school.

The criminal justice major quickly settled into her new home. Diane Hotaling, director of community services at Wesleyan, helped Hottle find volunteer work.

"Initially, Kelsey came into my office as a package deal with a friend of hers to participate in a program called Cooking for Kids. Once she found out about some of the other programs we offered, she was eager to lend more of her services."

At a volunteer fair, Hottle met EMTs from Virginia Beach and fell in love with the program.

"Kelsey is a student, an excellent volunteer and a hard worker," Hotaling said. "It's not easy to do what she does."

Since she joined, Hottle quickly advanced. In May she became a certified EMT Basic, which gives her the authority to perform basic life support, such as CPR and blood pressure checks.

She also has experienced the downsides of the job. Recently, she witnessed the death of a patient she was trying to save.

"I've had two people die on me, two weeks in a row at that. The first time it happened, I was really in shock. I had literally just given this patient CPR for over 20 minutes."

Hottle initially considered a career in law enforcement, but her volunteer efforts have changed her outlook, she said.

"My career path has definitely widened over time. My short-term goal is to graduate, but in the future any type of first-responder job would be great for me. I've even considered firefighting."

No matter what road she takes, her priority is service to others.

"I'm just a person helping other people - and I love what I do."

Copyright 2011 Virginian-Pilot Companies LLC

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