On most Friday evenings this fall, Julia Caine will be starting in goal for the reigning state champion River Hill Hawks girls soccer team.
After the games, her teammates will go to dinner, maybe see a movie or just hang out.
But Caine won’t be joining them. Instead, she’ll be high-tailing it to the West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department for a 12-hour shift.
Caine, an aspiring nurse who is training to be an emergency medical technician, has been volunteering at West Friendship for a few months now.
“I didn’t realize that you could be involved in the fire department this young,” she said.
When she arrives at 7 p.m., she and some of the other young volunteers will start by checking the oxygen tanks in the fire trucks and making sure other parts of the apparatus are in good order.
Then, they’ll have some training before settling into their evening activities, which could include cooking dinner for the other volunteers, playing pool, working out or watching a movie.
West Friendship also has individual bunks for volunteers who work long hours, so they can get some shut-eye during their shifts. But if they do, they have to be ready to jump out of bed should a call come in. They even sleep in their uniforms so they can get ready and on the apparatus as quickly as possible.
Caine says that doesn’t happen that often, though.
“West Friendship doesn’t get very many calls, especially on Friday nights,” she said. “We normally get one or two medical calls and then normally the firetruck will go out at least once.”
But the calls she has been on — including a medical call for a diabetic where she helped by holding up an IV bag for the patient — have been really helpful for her training.
“Even just watching what the paramedics and the EMTs do, just helps you gain experience and become better yourself,” she said.
Caine is beginning her official EMT classes this fall, which will require her to spend a lot more time at the firehouse. And balancing that with school, daily soccer practice and about a dozen regular-season games, could get tough.
“It’s a lot to manage,” she said. "I don’t have a lot of time for procrastinating.”