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