A rising Starbird takes flight

Ben CurryContributor

Gun shots. Car accidents. Overdoses. Midterms. These are just a few things Arron Starbird, an emergency medical technician and full time Southern student, must deal with on a daily basis.

“It can get pretty crazy at times, depending on the day and what types of calls we have to respond to,” Starbird said when asked about life as an EMT on a New Haven ambulance. American Medical Response’s New Haven Department estimates that it transports over 300 patients per day.

On top of working, Starbird is a full-time biology major with plans to switch into the nursing program at Southern in order to further his experience in patient care.

Starbird said he got his EMT certification at age 20 because it seemed interesting, and he soon fell in love with the high energy and ever-changing world of emergency medicine.

“It’s different every day. Sometimes the city can be pretty calm and other days you don’t even have time to eat before being sent out to the next 911 call,” Starbird said. “But nothing is crazier than an overnight shift in the summertime.”

Shifts usually run late due to the high volume of calls, resulting in a schedule conflict for Starbird. Sometimes he ends up being late for class after getting out of work over an hour past his scheduled clock-out time.

Starbird, as well as other EMTs and paramedics who are working their way through school, often bring their notes to work with them to try and squeeze in a study session in the small amounts of downtime they might get throughout the shift.

“It adds even more stress on test days than I already have,” Starbird said.

The hardest part of the job for most EMTs and paramedics is moving on from an emotionally tough call. Officials report that, on average, someone working in emergency medicine is ten times more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder than the average U.S. citizen.

Having to go to class immediately after a hard shift can be damaging to those working in high stress jobs. Being able to  compartmentalize the events of the shift and then having to focus on a lecture can be a challenge, but the 23-year-old from Waterbury still manages to keep his grades up and hopes to make the Dean’s List this semester.

“It can be tough sometimes, you know, seeing someone seriously hurt or even die,” Starbird said. “We do our best, but it happens sometimes, and sometimes we don’t have a lot of time to process it before we have to go to another emergency.”

Or in Starbird’s case, heading back to Southern for another lecture.

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