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Repetition — it’s something Sarah Kriegh never enjoyed. Three years of monotonous paperwork at a physical therapy clinic made her realize that she never wanted to sit behind a desk again.

Now, Kreigh, 22, sits in the back of an ambulance responding to 911 calls. An EMT – Paramedic, Kreigh never grew up thinking this is where she’d end up, although she knew it’d be in the healthcare field.

Getting to the back of an ambulance wasn’t an easy road. In the state of Missouri, Kreigh had to first become an EMT – Basic before her admittance into a paramedic school — a process that lasted approximately nine months.

Nine months lead to a year of paramedic school, a time she claims was the hardest thing she’d ever done in her life. It was a life of classes Monday through Fridays from 9 a.m-4:30 p.m., studying and homework, hospital clinicals and 24-hour ride-alongs with local ambulance services. Afterwards, each obtains a two to six-week internships with two local ambulance services.

The service she now provides in shifts of 24 hours on duty, 48 hours off duty, is a self-described “fast-paced work environment.” Many times she has no clue what she’s walking into until she gets there, thus she’s learned to keep her mind sharp and to stay on her toes.

The best part is simply helping people.

“There is no greater feeling than knowing that your prompt intervention of emergency medical treatment has helped save someone’s life,” Kreigh said.

She claims it’s physically, mentally and emotionally draining, but can’t say enough positive things about her experiences.

“It is a good career and I am lucky to have found what I love doing at such a young age,” Kreigh said.

At the young age of 14, Sephora Findling began volunteering in hospitals and it sparked an interest in the medical field. An interest that brought the then freshman to the doors of Syracuse University Ambulance.

What followed was a six-week probationary period to gain knowledge on taking blood pressure, pulses and respiration, using the equipment in the ambulance and lifting a person on a stretcher without dropping anything, anyone or injuring themselves. To top it off, a written test on the members of SUA and the different supervisors, the “huge family.”

The now rising senior, recalls her five to ten hours shifts, her time in the “huge family”, which included staying in quarters, eating dinners and watching movies. And then, being prepared for when a call comes in.

“It’s always a bit of a rush when the bell goes off and you’re waiting in the ambulance driveway for the dispatcher to tell you where you’re going and what is waiting for you,” Findling said.

The majors of the students within SUA are diverse — pre-med, photography, television, film and radio and English — but, they all share one thing in common.

“We love what we do and it’s great to have other people who understand our passions even though we all come from different majors,” Findling said.

Colleen Bidwill is a Summer 2012 USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent. Learn more about her here.

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