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Westlake Student by Day, Life Saver by Night

While the rest of his classmates at Westlake High School are sound asleep, Jonathan D'Addesio is responding to emergency calls. Every Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., D'Addesio is on duty with the Pleasantville Volunteer Ambulance Corps as a certified Emergency Medical Technician. After his shift, he immediately heads for Westlake, where he is currently a senior.

"The next day you're exhausted, but in the end you know that that lady or that guy got to the hospital and you really helped them out," D'Addesio said.

D'Addesio, 18, of Thornwood, has been involved with volunteer ambulance corps since he was 16. He got his start by volunteering with the Thornwood Fire Department and gained an interest in the medical aspects. After applying for a position with the ambulance corps, Jonathan became a New York State Certified First Responder and just recently passed the state exam to become a certified EMT.

Jonathan learned the ropes of the job from the rest of the volunteers at the ambulance corps, which he refers to as a family. Shortly after joining the force in 2009, D'Addesio was first among the first to respond to the multicar accident in which Diane Schuler drove drunk the wrong way down the Taconic State Parkway and killed eight people, four of them children. If he could handle that tragedy, he could probably handle anything. So far this year, he has responded to about 90 calls.

Kelli Conley, D'Addesio's captain at the ambulance corps, had nothing but praise for her young volunteer.

"He's such a dedicated, hardworking person, especially for his age," Conley said. "Jon is just an amazing member. I wish I had ten of him,"

The Pleasantville Volunteer Ambulance Corps was recently recognized by the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York as the best ambulance corps in Westchester County. The group also named Jonathan the Westchester Youth Emergency Provider of the Year, for 2011.

D'Addessio's volunteer work doesn't stop there. At Westlake high, he is an active member of Habitat for Humanity and he is the president of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), a program to bring awareness about the dangers of drugs and alcohol to youths.

In the fall, Jonathan will be attending SUNY Brockport to study nursing and plans to possibly become a nurse practitioner and work in the medical field. Yet even as a new chapter of his life begins, Jonathan strives to continue to give back to his community.

"I'll be back here at PVAC," D'Addesio said, referring to the ambulance corps. "I'm not going anywhere. I'm a big believer in helping people out, especially when they're in a time of need,"

Have you ever needed a first responder? Tell us about it in comments below, or on Facebook.

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