A dedicated proponent of emergency medical training in his community was honored this summer by officials in ELCO School District.

“ELCO School District has offered an EMT program to our high school students for 40 years,” district superintendent Julia Vicente explained. The district recognized David Kirchner, who founded the program, “for his years of dedicated service and commitment to our community.”

The school district hosted a reception in Kirchner’s honor at the high school on June 20, Vicente said. Afterwards, she said, he was recognized with a special resolution by the school board. Representatives for state Rep. Russ Diamond and state Senator Chris Gebhard were also in attendance and presented proclamations to Kirchner for his service.

Gebhard, in his proclamation, said the program “was designed for seniors to teach students how to handle situations that require CPR, bandaging and splinting, emergency childbirth, car rescue work and medical problems, such as coronaries, diabetic emergencies, bee stings, poisoning, strokes, epilepsy and burns. The year-long course qualifies students who pass to become EMTs and serve with ambulance units. The ELCO High School EMT Program has striven to provide excellent educational, social and civic opportunities to its students, and dedicated support from the community has built a strong foundation for its success.”

Vicente further noted that the EMT program “has had a significant impact on our community in many ways from adding EMTs to our first responder rosters to saving lives by individuals trained in our program. Without a doubt the program has enriched our community.”

The Sunday Patriot-News, in an article published on Oct. 8, 1985, noted that the program in its first four years had certified 151 ELCO graduates, many of whom remained active with their local ambulance associations. However, Kirchner told a reporter then that he didn’t measure the program’s success by counting the numbers.

“One out of three students that graduate here are trained,” he said in 1985. “If something happens in front of them, they may be able to help.”

Kirchner taught general physics and chemistry prior to starting the EMT class. He also volunteered with the Myerstown ambulance and held a state certification as an EMT instructor.

He was inspired to start the class, he explained, after responding on an ambulance call where a former student of his said he “didn’t know what to do” when a family member suffered a cardiac arrest. The ELCO school board provided $10,000 in seed money to launch the program.

At the reception, Vicente said, Kirchner “was joined by his family, members of the Myerstown First Aid Unit, First Aid Safety and Patrol, members of the EMT Education Institution Board, ELCO School Board members, administrators, and other friends.”

An article from the Sunday Patriot-News on ELCO’s EMT program.
An article from the Lebanon Daily News on ELCO’s EMT program.

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Tom Knapp

Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.