Never too young to save a life

Anabelle Welke had her fair share of exposure to the medical system as a child, but that’s not the only reason you would want the grade 11 student around in the case of an emergency. The Certified Emergency Medical Responder is now qualified to handle any emergency that might arise—just don’t ask her to drive the ambulance.

Welke spent the entire month of August 2017 immersed in an intensive Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) training program to become a licensed EMR. Despite learning everything she needs to know to be able to assist someone in an ambulance, she is still too young to drive one.

She is one of the few high school students to successfully complete the course where the average student age is 30 years old. The fast-paced immersion program ran from 7:30 a.m. to about 9:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends. This was an enormous time commitment for Welke that very few high school students would be willing to make during their summer break, especially considering the high stakes and stressful circumstances of emergency medicine.

Not only did she pass the final exam, but she did so against all odds. Welke, who has severe dyslexia, had to overcome a multitude of barriers to successfully navigate the course. Helping her surmount many of these obstacles was her instructor, Nik Southwell.

“Anabelle is a gifted, diligent, and hard-working student and she doesn’t let her learning challenges hold her back,” said Southwell. 

“I hope that Anabelle’s story gives hope to those that fear not reaching their goals because of barriers; be it physical, learning or mental. She has everything in my mind to be an exceptional Paramedic as it was proven to all of us in her journey last summer. Despite her chosen path or career, I feel this opportunity will give her a leg up to achieve and overcome bigger obstacles in her life,” he said.

For Welke, one of the main challenges was getting through the heavy reading material, which is extremely difficult with dyslexia.

“My instructor told me to just stay focused and learn the material that was being taught in class. I managed to keep up because we learned so much during our long school days that the textbook was more of a review,” said Welke. “My instructor would read the exams to me (which took place every three days), and I would take the tests orally.”

“We did skit medicine, so I loved practicing scenarios with my classmates. I feel confident that I am very qualified to respond to all different kinds of emergencies now, but the amount of stress I put my heart under for a month was way more than I could have imagined.”

What Welke learned during August was much more than just how to save a life. She says that despite many of the hurdles she faced, she learned that hard work, time management, and handling high pressure situations are important skills that will serve her moving forward in her studies and her career path.

“What impressed me most about Anabelle completing the EMR course was her work ethic and level of dedication.  This was a very intense course that some adults were unable to successfully complete and she achieved top marks because she worked incredibility hard to succeed,” said Deanna Welke, Anabelle’s mother.

“Anabelle cares deeply about people and is an incredibly compassionate human being. Even from an early age, her teachers remarked that she had compassion way beyond her years. I believe the skills she has acquired becoming an Emergency Medical Responder will just enable her to continue doing what she loves doing which is helping others, and quite possibly saving lives.”

Welke is already looking ahead to the future with her sights set on going to nursing school and pursuing healthcare as a career. Once she turns 19, she can be licensed as a paramedic, which she might consider doing while she attends university.

For now, she is happy to be back at SMS where she can focus on her high school studies and the next steps in her path to becoming a nurse.

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