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Dec. 2, 2021--Their shift started off fairly normally for DCC paramedic students Kevin Hauenstein and Allison Kreuscher. Scheduled for a clinical rotation on an ambulance, the two went through the process of checking their rig, making sure they had everything they would need for the next 12 hours. Their shift was relatively uneventful - until the last call of the day: from the family of a woman about to give birth in her home.
Hauenstein was the first to respond with his partner just as the woman went into labor. She was showing signs of stress, so they called for a backup medic, and Kreuscher arrived with her clinical supervisor as the second unit. After a very difficult breech delivery, the child was born – pulseless and blue. For the students, it meant keeping the mother – and themselves – calm and focused on the task at hand.
To Hauenstein and Kreuscher, it was just another call, but their cool and calm approach didn’t go unnoticed. Rob Matragrano, who is Hauenstein’s supervisor during their clinical practice, advised Bernadette Cekuta, coordinator of DCC’s EMS programs. In recognizing the students’ actions, Matragrano noted that a call like the one the students faced is something even a seasoned paramedic would find difficult. He praised Hauenstein and Kreuscher for how well they both handled this tense situation and how they demonstrated remarkable leadership during the call.
Cekuta knew the students had to be recognized for their efforts. For several years, she and Dr. Gary Neifeld, the EMS program medical director, had been talking about setting up an award to recognize outstanding student effort. They both knew that if ever there was a time to launch that recognition program, it was now. And it was to recognize these students.
“So, it was with great pride that we presented Kevin Hauenstein and Allison Kreuscher with the EMS Paramedic program’s first-ever Leadership Under Extreme Circumstances awards,” said Cekuta. “We felt it was important to recognize the students because a call like this does not happen very often. When it does, it is extremely stressful, even for an experienced provider. But for two students to handle it with such a high level of critical thinking and authority was amazing.”
Both students were surprised – but very pleased – to receive the recognition.
“Getting the award was unexpected,” said Hauenstein. “But it was really cool to be recognized. I was only told that night that this would be the first time the award was given – so I feel very proud to be among the first to receive this honor.”
As Cekuta explained the skills demonstrated by the students are the crux of being a paramedic and they both showed that they are ready to handle anything that comes their way.
“We also want our current and future students to know that hard work is noticed and recognized,” said Cekuta. “And of course, it makes all of our EMS staff very proud to hear from a clinical supervisor that our students excelled in such a difficult situation.”
What’s next for Hauenstein and Kreuscher? Both are scheduled to graduate in January and have their eyes set firmly on careers in healthcare.
“After graduation, I will be working as a paramedic while attending SUNY New Paltz,” said Kreuscher. “Then it’s on to my bachelor’s degree in biochemistry/biology and then hopefully off to Touro Medical College. I love emergency medicine and want to work my way up to be an emergency room physician.”
Hauenstein is taking a more flexible approach to his career journey. “I will be applying for local paramedic jobs,” he said. “And eventually, upgrade to a flight medic. And then who knows, anything is possible!”
For more on DCC's paramedic program, visit the webpage.