By Lyonel Doherty
Dayton Hayes could save your life in an emergency, but he’s actually too young to do it under any official capacity.
But he’s “patient.”
At 17, he already knows how to perform CPR, how to operate an AED, how to distribute nitroglycerin, how to administer glucose for a diabetic person, and how to save an overdose patient with naloxone.
The student from Willowbrook is getting an early start on his career through the dual-credit program at Southern Okanagan Secondary School.
Hayes was the youngest person to pass the EMR (emergency medical responder) course this summer at the Justice Institute of B.C. And now he’s preparing to get his PCP (primary care paramedic) certification.
“I’ve always been someone who likes to help people. It has just been a natural thing (for me),” he said.
The Grade 12 student explained that he had the previous idea of becoming an architect.
“My grandpa (‘Butch’ Hayes) is a very smart man; he designed lots of things. I hung out with him countless hours, so I started thinking about being an architect.”
But Dayton realized he would need high marks in math and physics and wasn’t sure if he was prepared to push himself that much for a career that didn’t promise a job at the end of all the schooling.
Dayton learned there is a high demand for paramedics in B.C., so he followed that lead.
“It’s something where I’m not just sitting around in an office typing on a computer.”
He spoke to career education coordinator Rod Kitt who steered him in the right direction.
After Dayton began the EMR course, he started enjoying it and discovered he was quite good at it, too.
He wasn’t naïve because he knew what he was getting into – treating ghastly injuries and trying to revive people who were technically deceased.
“The nature of the job doesn’t affect me. You’ve got to look at the positives, right? Because there is going to be negatives. You’re not going to save every single person, but you’re there to try.”
He knows he’s going to see some horrible things, but he has to train himself to get over it and move on.
Dayton is also well aware of post-traumatic stress disorder that many paramedics suffer from.
“I was informed of that on the first day of class.”
While Dayton is waiting for his life-saving career to take off, he’s getting some good experience serving on the Willowbrook Fire Department.
Next up is obtaining his PCP licence.
Kitt had to do some verbal wrangling to get Dayton into that course because the prerequisite is Grade 12 completion.
Kitt said the Justice Institute initially said no, but after he explained how dedicated Dayton was, the program director agreed to waive the requirement.
“I’m extremely optimistic and excited for Dayton. He took his first course during the summer on his own time; he gave up three weeks of his summer to do that course, so that shows a lot of personal dedication.”
Kitt said what is really beneficial about this program is Dayton is earning credit while he’s taking these courses outside of high school. As a bonus, the district is paying his tuition.
The dual-credit program benefits 20 to 30 students every year. Kitt said one 15-year-old student from Osoyoos is already working in a restaurant and is preparing for the district’s professional cook level 1 course.
“He could be graduating high school almost a Red Seal chef,” Kitt said.
Meanwhile, Dayton is really looking forward to his career and where it will take him. He hopes to work as a paramedic somewhere in the Okanagan.