Members of the Atlantic Highlands First Aid & Safety Squad Cadets spent five hours on a recent Sunday morning learning skills that one day could help them save a life.

While many of their counterparts were still sleeping, the Cadets were up early learning how to perform a variety of patient assessment skills, including how to measure vital signs such as blood pressure, breathing and pulse rates. They also learned how to document their initial assessment, and afterward, several went on to complete a CPR class.

“It's important for young folks to get involved with the first aid squad because they are the future of our town,” says AHFAS EMT Ali Maddock, who heads up the Cadet group and led the training. “The squad already has a great group of people who we can all trust to take care of our town. It is important for young members to get involved so we know that we will always be in good hands.”

The AHFAS Cadets is an organization for students between the ages of 14 and 18 who want to become involved in emergency medical services. Members meet monthly, participate in drills and training. Once they turn 16, Cadets can join adult members on a variety of real EMS calls.

Maddock, who began her EMS work as member of the AHFAS Cadets when she was a sophomore at Henry Hudson Regional High School, this fall has focused on boosting the Cadets ranks by getting new members to join and providing them with more educational and social experiences. One of her goals is to get a team ready to participate in a skills competition organized by Keyport First Aid next June.

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“I hope that the cadets were able to see that getting involved with first aid has many benefits,” Maddock says. “The cadets were able to have a good time, meet new friends, all while learning skills that could potentially save someone's life one day.”

No experience is necessary to join the AHFAS Cadets, which is a division of the all-volunteer AHFAS. Training is provided. In addition to learning CPR and skills involved with EMS work, Cadets participate in fundraisers such as an annual car wash, the town wide garage sale, and are a key part in the Squad’s annual Santa Runs event in December, when the organization brings Santa and his sleigh to each part of town over the course of four nights.

Ultimately, AHFAS leaders look to the Cadets as the future of the organization. Several current members began as cadets and have continued to volunteer with the Squad, which provides around-the-clock emergency medical services to Atlantic Highlands and occasionally the surrounding areas. The organization operates on donations from the borough and the community.

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“The cadets’ training is a vital component to our community because it shows that they truly care about helping others,” Maddock says. “Our community is so close-knit and it is because we all care about the town and everyone in it. Their training will benefit not only themselves, but Atlantic Highlands as a whole.”

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For information about how to become a Cadet call the AHFAS non-emergency number at (732) 291-8118 or visit the AHFAS website at www.ahfirstaid.org. Follow the AHFAS on Facebook and Twitter.

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