Christopher Aaron Rock proudly wore his uniform before the ambulance that was housed in the Richmond County Emergency Services (EMS) station.
He hadn’t worn it for long, but had quickly become recognized by his instructors for his energy and dedication to the emergency field.
He was thoughtful and humble in describing his plans and accomplishments: the two years of services he has also contributed to the Richmond County Volunteer Fire Department, a scholarship he earned from following his passion and his goal to become a paid firefighter and paramedic.
Rock has also engaged situations where danger or serious injuries were present. He has seen accidents and even assisted emergency services with a recent scare at the post office.
And he has done all of this as a recent Rappahannock High School graduate.
On May 18, Rock received the 2013 Peninsulas EMS Council Regional Award for “outstanding contribution to EMS by a high school senior.”
The award provided Rock with a scholarship in the amount of $1,000 that will help pay for his attendance at Jefferson College of Health Sciences in Roanoke.
The regional honor also qualified Rock for the 2013 Governor’s EMS Awards, which would provide him with a $5,000 scholarship should he be recognized as a winner on Nov. 10 in Norfolk.
“It just felt good getting that award,” said Rock. “It means a lot because this is what I’ve always wanted to do, and knowing that this is the field I’m going to make a career out of, I feel honored to get it.”
Tamara McDaniel, Rock’s EMT instructor at the Northern Neck Technical Center, nominated him for the regional award after witnessing firsthand his talent and dedication.
“He was the top student in every way from the beginning of the course in relation to skills and training,” said McDaniel, noting that Rock maintained the highest GPA of the students in her class throughout the entire year.
McDaniel added that Rock excelled at practical skills that included CPR, airway maintenance and trauma-type skills such as bleeding control and shock management.
“This is something that he truly wants to do,” said McDaniel. “He had a love for it and it shows in his enthusiasm and everything that he does.”
She also attested to Rock’s sense of humor by mentioning how he’d jokingly profess that he would become her boss one day.
“Although I give him a hard time, the fact of the matter is that it would be my honor because I know he is on the ball,” said McDaniel.
Rock, in turn, was grateful to his instructor and mentor.
“We always joke around, but I love that woman to death,” said Rock. “She taught me a lot [and] she’s a really good teacher.”
Rock originally enrolled in her class because Jefferson College required that he become an emergency medical technician (EMT) prior to going there.
It was through training with McDaniel that he gleaned a passion for EMS work.
“Once I started taking the class, I just fell in love with it,” said Rock. “I’ve always wanted to be in fire but the EMS side is really fun, too.”
Rock was intrigued by the idea that there was always something different he would see or do while on call as an EMT.
“You could go to a heart attack, or you could go to somebody that has a cut,” said Rock. “You just get that rush [because] you never know what you’re going to pull up to.”
Rock recalled one accident where a woman had cut her leg shaving.
“Usually, you don’t think about that being very bad,” said Rock. “But when we pulled up, she cut an artery, and it was just, straight, solid flow coming out.”
It was a situation that may have seemed too graphic or uneasy for any teenager to handle.
But for Rock, it was an “adrenaline rush” to be able to help the woman while allowing him to deal with an unexpected scenario.
“It’ll catch you off-guard sometimes,” said Rock. “I guess that’s also the fun side of it. You think of it as being nothing, and then pulling up and seeing that, it’s just like, ‘Whoa!’”
In his plans to attend Jefferson College, Rock aims to major in Fire Science and obtain his paramedic license. Following college, Rock aspires to become a paid firefighter and paramedic and possibly work for LifeEvac Virginia and provide aid to people across the state from the emergency helicopter.
Rock, however, hopes he can still call Richmond County his home after achieving his goal.
“I’m a country boy at heart,” he said with a smile.