Working Nightshifts with the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad
Sarah Francis Jones, picutred above, spends her evenings volunteering with the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Fire Safety and Rescue Squad / Credits: via Sarah Francis Jones
Most students spend their weeknights finishing up homework or watching TikToks, but for Sarah Frances Jones (‘25), nights are for working alongside Bethesda-Chevy Chase Fire Safety and Rescue Squad. Though responding to emergency calls isn’t the most relaxing evening, it’s very rewarding.
All students at SWW are required to work at an internship as upperclassmen to graduate. Most students choose to work virtually or at a typical office job, but Jones took a different approach, spurred by her longstanding interest in the medical field. She has leaned into this passion by pursuing work with the Rescue Squad. Her personality also influenced her decision, as she describes herself as “naturally a very helpful person,” which Jones said has proven to be a very beneficial trait to the internship so far.
Jones quickly learned that the job can be full of abrupt calls as after a short break to the grocery store, “we got radioed for a wreck on I-495 and had to take that call before returning to the station.” However, she noted not all days on the job are like this and often busyness fluctuates. For now when the squad does get called, Jones is tasked with observing and helping carry equipment. However, as she progresses through the internship she will become able to do hands-on jobs helping patients in medical emergencies.
Although she loves helping others, Jones also emphasized that not every emergency has a happy ending. “We get some really gruesome calls, and also some really sad ones. We can save a life or a limb one day, but maybe not the next day,” she said. Despite the tough reality check, Jones still values the experience.
In addition to the emotional difficulty, the schedule of firefighters and EMS workers is not ideal for a high schooler. They tend to do late night shifts from 7 PM to 7 AM, but as a minor she's only allowed to work until 11 PM. “It's really hard to adjust your sleep schedule. I am big on going to bed early,” she said, yet another challenge she's had to overcome.
For a half semester of internship, SWW requires 60 hours, which students typically split up throughout the weeks getting 2-3 hours per week. However, Jones works two night shifts a week, each around four hours. On top of that, every sixth weekend she works a continuous 20 hour shift, which she says is due to complicated scheduling demands. And during her internship class period, she does virtual work, easily exceeding the minimum hour requirements.
Due to her interest in emergency medicine and the physician’s skills that come with it, she feels that the extra hours are worth the payoff. Although she's not being paid, the experience still has value. “Med school is a huge commitment, both financially and career-wise and by doing this I can discover if this is something I want to pursue,” she explained.
That being said, for students interested in emergency medicine or firefighting, Jones could not recommend it more. She's had nothing but good things to say about the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad, and recommends it as long for any students willing to commit to the challenges that come with the demanding nature of the internship.