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  • Eve Mellis and Tino Preldakaj

Senior Spotlight: Seth Waxler

The Senior Spotlight is a famous Campus segment designed to shed light on an Edgemont Senior whose academic or extracurricular accomplishments may not receive the recognition they deserve. For this issue, we interviewed none other than Seth Waxler. Seth Waxler is a Cadet 1st Lt., Tango Flight Commander, Primary Representative, Wing CAC Squadron Emergency Services Officer Cadet Health Services Officer, EMT, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary (M), and he “volunteers serving America's communities, saving lives, and shaping futures.”

Eve: Campus has insider information that you are a fencer. Can you talk a little bit about what motivated you to take up this unique sport?

My dad's best friend is a three-time Olympian and a one-time silver medalist from 2008 Beijing. And when I was about five, I was kind of morphed into fencing. I still don't love it, but I'm pretty good at it. I joined a fencing club when I was about nine, and I've been fencing for about 13 years now.

Tino: Do you hope to pursue fencing at the collegiate level? 

Um, yes. Currently, I'm a D1 recruit, so we'll see where that goes.

Eve: Campus has also heard you're an EMT. What inspired you to pick this up?

Well, I got into EMS a couple of years ago. I was backpacking out in the highest Sierra Mountains, about 75 miles away from the nearest civilization, hospital, road, store, or anything like that. There were about 14 people. And it started raining. It started raining really hard. It was in California, so it was about 95 degrees. When the rain hit, it went down to about 40 degrees. People started getting hypothermic. It got so bad it started to hail. The hail ripped holes in our tarp and tent. We had no way of staying dry. It had no rain gear. What ended up happening was that a lot of people went into hyperthermic shock. Some people went into hypervolemic shock from getting hit by hail balls. They had so much blood loss that they went into shock. And I couldn't do anything. I literally couldn't do anything. I had no idea what to do. We called rescue. We waited 13 hours. Two of my friends were in a coma. I had mild hypothermic shock, most of us did. And then I hiked, I think 20 miles over the course of a couple of days to get to, you know, civilization again. After that, I joined up with an organization called Civil Air Patrol to get trained in search and rescue. Then, I was selected to attend Hawk Mountain Ranger School, where I trained. I did that for a couple of months, and then I became a cadet military medic, kind of, like we call them HSOs, so Health Service Officers. And then I came back here to New York, and we don't really do so much search and rescue in New York, so I actually shadowed my mom in the ER and joined EMS about a year ago and put myself through night school all of last year. So, I went to EMT night school for six months. I graduated, and I'm currently the youngest EMT in New York State. I work on Westchester County SWAT. And I do Pleasantville Volunteer Ambulance Corps as well. So please, neither of you get hurt in Pleasantville. I do not want to see you at work.

Tino: Being an EMT is a significant responsibility. Can you tell us about a specific experience or moment that stood out to you during your time as an emergency medical technician? 

A memorable experience was about six weeks ago, I lost my first patient. That was definitely memorable. I took a little while to bounce back and actually went to school the next day, which was not so easy. And then I am actually getting sued for it, so that is wonderful even though I didn't do anything wrong. I'm gonna be appearing in court in a couple of weeks. The patient, unfortunately, died in the ambulance on the ride to the hospital, so they're suing sort of just like everybody, I guess because the family got really upset.

Eve: Being an EMT requires quick thinking and the ability to stay calm under pressure. How do you think your experiences as an EMT have shaped your problem-solving skills and decision-making skills in other aspects of your life?

I don't think it's made my decision-making any better. Ha ha. Well, it has. I'm a little bit smarter about what I do and where I go. It's led me to realize that people are stupid. Just inherently, people are really idiotic. They do really stupid things, and they cause essentially life-threatening situations. You would be surprised how many teenagers I see do stuff like this.

Tino: Well, first, I just wanted to say people are stupid, but it's always important to tell yourself people are good. 

People are good; that's not what I'm saying, I'm not saying people are bad. 

Tino: I know, I'm just saying it’s such a good reminder. 

Eve: Are you Batman?

I want to say no to that. Ha ha. I don't wear a cape. 

Eve: Are you not a normal guy during the day and a hero by night?

Okay, touche. 

Tino: What is the main thing that distinguishes you from Batman? 

I swore an oath to do no harm. He beats people up for a living, I think.

Tino: Balancing academics and extracurricular activities can be challenging. How do you manage your time effectively between your commitments as a high school senior, a fencer, EMP, and whatever else? 

Managing my time is a challenge. School is a challenge. I do my homework in very weird places sometimes, like helicopters or in the ambulance…I bring it with me to work because I don't always have the time at home to do my homework. 

To be frank, I wish I could say no to morning EMT shifts, but how are you going to say no to when someone's like, “hey, can you save some lives today?” “No, I'm not going to do that.” What are you supposed to say in that situation?! So I do that a lot. I'm traveling the world fencing since I'm a Team USA fencer, so I bring stuff with me on the planes, on the bus rides, in the car, at the fencing venue, in the hotel etc. It's a challenge.

Tino: What does a day in the life of Seth look like?

Eve: Yeah, a long day in the life. Like a jam-packed day.

A day in the life. I wake up at 0530, go to the gym, and then I'll come home at maybe 7ish, shower, change, go to school, do my school day. I’ll write medical charts during my free period. And then I'll have the rest of the school day, go home for about an hour. I don't know, probably go to fencing practice after that. And then let's say it's a Friday night, I'll either have to go to the American Legion in Scarsdale for the military, or I will be going to my ambulance corps to do the night shift from Friday into Saturday. 

But, you know what, how many high schoolers get to say, ‘What did you do on a Saturday night?’ and you say, ‘you know I saved someone’s life.’ That feeling is unmatched in this world. Just to get a letter saying ‘thank you so much for like… helping.’ Even for the most minute thing, it just makes you, you know, makes your day. And something I've learned is humor goes a long way. 

Tino: What's one piece of advice you want to share with our readers? 

That's tough. I think one piece is to make smart decisions. 

Or I can go with a really famous EMT quote where it's “drive safe or I'm gonna see you naked.” Legally, I have to literally cut away your clothes if you get in a car crash. It is really bad. And if you are drunk driving, that is the worst thing. So be safe. But I think the best piece of advice I have is just to stay calm and have a good time. Like, just breathe. You'll get through the tough times.

Tino: We appreciate your humility, Seth.

Well, thank you guys.


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