August Laska Learns His (EMT) Lessons

August Laska has acted in every Staples Players show since freshman year. “Into the Woods,” “Rent,” studio productions — he’s done them all.

August Laska

This summer, the rising senior did something completely different. He spent every weekday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Bridgeport Hospital. August — and 7 other Staples students — are taking the long, tough, but very rewarding Emergency Medical Technician training course.

His mother, Jennifer Balin, earned her certification 5 years ago in Westport. Last fall, August vowed to do the same.

It’s made for quite a summer. Every night from late June on, he reads a thick textbook. The next day there are lectures, and plenty of tests. The course ends later this month, with a 6-hour practical exam, and a 200-question written one.

August calls the course “the most interesting and rewarding thing I’ve ever done.” It’s solidified his desire for a career in medicine. It’s taught him plenty — and opened his eyes quite wide.

Part of the training involved a 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift in the Bridgeport Hospital emergency room. He had class 2 hours later — but his adrenaline was pumping all night.

He saw horrific trauma — and people at their most vulnerable. He saw patients who use the ER because they have no primary care physicians. He realized the importance of emergency rooms in medicine, and can see himself working there one day.

Yesterday was something new, and special: He was invited into the operating room, to watch surgery.

As the class progresses, August says, he realizes “how little EMTs can really do” — beyond initial assessment and treatment — but also “how much they have to know.” Friends may not understand why he stays home at night studying, or how much he looks forward to waking up at 8 a.m. to go to school, but some things just can’t be explained.

He’s learning skills he can use anywhere, any time. He’s learning about expectations versus reality (“medicine is nowhere near as clean as it seems from the outside,” he notes). And he’s learning how to help and serve others.

Of all the roles August Laska has played on stage, this one off it may turn out to be his biggest.

12 responses to “August Laska Learns His (EMT) Lessons

  1. I hope we never meet during a circumstance that would require your EMT skills, however, I would welcome your presence, commitment and dedication if such a “situation” occurred. Thanks for your thoughtful and important service.

  2. Ilene Mirkine

    August is a very bright and driven young man….his patients and the medical centers where ever he works will be lucky to have him!

  3. Way to go August …. we need more like you in the world! When you have time, check out Westport CERT ….. ….keep acting on stage and learn as much as you can …. the world holds many interesting things to those that want to see the knowledge! Congrats to your Mom too …. she’s raised a great young man and her on her certificaton too!

  4. Westporter4ever

    BRAVO! I started as an MRT (medical response tehnician) with Westport VEMS when I was 15…when I graduated from High School, I then bumped up to be EMT… I’ve been certified since 1996, and although not “active” i think it has moulded who I am today. I commend August for using his summer to go through the class…it is NOT EASY! not only does he need to attend classes, study, do rotations at the hostpital, but he also needs to prepare for the State Written and pratical test….which is a unique experience all itself! I wish him the best of luck!!!

  5. Estelle T. Margolis

    This is one of the superb young people in town who will contribute to the quality of life of many and help to change the world!

    Thank you, August. You are my hope for the future.

    I send you a big hug and love, Estelle

  6. And some wonder why I speak and write so enthusiastically about Students at Staples. I know August. I have watched him grow since he came to us as a freshman. He dedicates himself to whatever he chooses to do whether it is acting, speaking French, being a good friend to others, and now this. We have many students like August, but this is August’s moment in the sun and I congratulate him for what he is doing. If he really does decide to become a doctor specializing in emergency trauma, he will be the best. That is who he is.

  7. August I sincerely commend you. What an example you set for our other teenagers in this country. This should go viral so the world can see what good people we are & especially great news about how our teenagers can & will be. Come on kids follow his lead!!!!

  8. Alison McDavid

    Great job August, we’re all so proud of you! You’re a wonderful role model for your peers and your siblings. Keep up the good work!!

  9. Tracy Robinson

    August, so proud of you. You go, boy!

  10. A great story – but what about the other 7 students? Or the fact that Staples students (and high schoolers from neighboring towns) have been volunteering with Westport EMS since 1994? I’m surprised there hasn’t been a story on this before – and also that only one student seems to be getting a “moment in the sun.”

  11. Agreed. 7 others ignored for some reason?

    • Relax. I have a couple of hundred words to tell a story. I happened to see August one day; he mentioned his great experience to me. I interviewed him, and told the story through his eyes. I write “06880” in my free time; every interview takes half an hour to an hour. I mentioned the other 7 students in the 2nd paragraph. There’s no malice intended, or conspiracy afoot.