The Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps (WVAC) will be hosting a class to train new Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) training class this fall, starting Sept. 13. Registration opens on the Parks and Recreation website today, Thursday, Aug. 31.  

Becoming an EMT is the perfect way to make a difference in the community–a lifesaving difference. Just ask Garret Sampel, a 19-year-old Stamford resident who spent the summer training with Wilton’s EMS and WVAC. Sampel is a  junior studying mechanical engineering at UMASS Dartmouth.

On Monday, Aug. 21, he was on a WVAC crew that was dispatched to a local residence for a cardiac arrest. On arrival, they found an elderly woman who was non–responsive and had no pulse. They immediately began CPR, and Sampel was the one doing manual chest compressions on the patient while the medic provided advanced life saving care. The crew was able to achieve Return of Spontaneous Circulation (ROSC) before transporting the patient to Norwalk Hospital and turning her over to the hospital’s care.

Sampel is a probationary member, training with Wilton as part of the apprentice program. In just the first month this summer, he volunteered for more than 130 hours, and added on 48 more before heading back to college, but he will continue to volunteer with Wilton during holidays and school breaks.

We asked Garret to share in his own words about his experience that day and over the summer, and why he would encourage Wilton residents to consider training to volunteer as an EMT. 

I started training with Wilton EMS at the end of July. My first shift was on July 23. I have been working 12 hours a day, 3-5 days a week since then, because I want to, there is no requirement to commit that much.

In order to become a probationary member you need to attend three meetings (held once a month over the summer, and twice a month otherwise). You also need to be currently certified at the EMT-B level or above. After that point, you are voted in as a probationary member. For me this process took two months as I was already a certified EMT.

There are two major types of training. We have an Apprentice Binder with about 35 entries ranging from operating a power stretcher to how and when to use certain medications. These are all things we were trained to use during our EMT certification courses, but it is important that we know how to do them, and any differences in local protocol, so we review with our coworkers as they sign off on our entries.

The second type of training would be what we actually do on calls. When you start out, you watch and learn, and perhaps take vital signs or do other simple tasks. As you gain experience, you slowly take over patient care and do tasks like assisting the paramedics and communicating with the hospital.

Training is fun and interesting.  All of my coworkers are my mentors and they all genuinely want to help me learn.

I have wanted to be an EMT my entire life, so the decision to get my license was one I made a long time ago. I picked Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corp because it is a volunteer agency with a decent call volume and a friendly and helpful staff. The people I work with obviously enjoy volunteering here and make a great learning environment for new EMTs.

The majority of the calls I have been on have involved falls, difficulty breathing, or chest pain. I have worked on a few traumas as well.

I remember that Aug. 21 call very clearly, we were on our way to a different call when the dispatcher contacted us on the radio and told us to divert to the cardiac arrest. I started  gathering up the gear we needed and running through the protocols in my head.  As soon as we got on scene we got right to work, there really was not much time to think about what was going on, we are trained to evaluate and treat as quickly as possible in a situation like that.  I helped move the patient on to the floor to start CPR, inserted an airway adjunct, ventilated the patient, and performed compressions throughout the duration of the call along with my crew.

I felt focused throughout the entire call, working though the protocols and reassessing the patient frequently. Once the patient regained a pulse I realized I had just helped save a person’s life, and to be honest, that was one of the best feelings I have ever felt. As an EMT I have no idea (nor am I allowed to know) what happened to that patient after we transferred care to the hospital. Obviously I wonder, and I hope that the patient is still alive and doing well, but in reality I will probably never know. It is my job as an EMT to help the patients during my short time with them, and try to drop them off at the hospital in better condition than I picked them up.

WVAC is a great place to learn. They have a friendly staff from all walks of life that genuinely enjoy what they are doing.  I have not met a single person here who did not want to help me learn, or for that matter, was not willing to go completely out of their way for me.

For someone considering training to become an EMT, I would say, “Do it! Do it now! Volunteering in EMS is a great opportunity to learn, help people, and be a part of an amazing team.”


WVAC’s EMT training class starts Wednesday, Sept 13 and will go through Jan 20, 2018. Class days are Monday and Wednesday from 6 p.m.-10 p.m., plus one Saturday a month from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and will be held at the Comstock Community Center at 180 School Rd..

The class costs $950, which includes the cost of the text book. According to WVAC, it’s one of the cheapest EMT classes offered in Fairfield County. Participants who become certified and join WVAC, and remain a member in good standing for one year will be reimbursed that $950.

The E.M.T. program covers proper techniques in first aid, patient assessment, extrication, communication, HAZMAT and Terrorism awareness, and various other concepts to give a beginning basis for students to become an EMT. The class meets all National Registry and Connecticut requirements and upon successful completion of the course, students will be eligible to take the National Registry exam. This course is offered in partnership with Norwalk Hospital and requires an extensive amount of reading and reading comprehension. To register visit the Wilton Parks and Recreation website or call Jim Lewicki at 203.834.6234.

Garret Sampel receiving his CPR Saved pin.