From Pom-Poms to Stretchers:

A Profile of Grace Pomponi

by Olivia Vegliante - october 07
NEIRAD enilno edition

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As fifteen year-old Grace Pomponi spots her three sophomore friends in the Darien High School cafeteria, she flips her hair and scurries to the familiar round lunch table with a fruit salad and smart water in hand, grabbing a chair on the way. 
“Oh my god, guess what I just heard!” Pomponi squeals, excited to tell her friends her latest high school gossip. 
Unfortunately the three curious friends are going to have to wait to hear the social update later because suddenly the familiar high-pitched beeps and static blares through the black pager clasped on the back of Pomponi’s navy blue pants.  Pomponi instantly stands up and runs out of the cafeteria without having time to say goodbye to her friends, knowing they understand what is going on, and heads towards the ambulance truck parked in front of the school with the driver waiting.  As she hops in the truck, Pomponi tries to ignore all of the chaos of her fellow “Posties” trying to grab their gloves and tie their boots, and focused on preparing herself for the call.
 “I can’t really tell you much about the call because it’s confidential.  It was a little boy [a pediatric patient] who had broken his arm and he was so scared so we had to keep comforting him,” she later says of the call.  “And after a while he was laughing and stuff and telling us about his birthday. We have these little stuffed animals on the ambulance and we gave him one and it made him happy.”  After bringing the now comforted boy to the emergency room in Stamford hospital, Pomponi writes up the necessary report on the injury and is back to school just in time for Ms. Taylor’s period five math class.   

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Pomponi has been familiar to chaos since the day she was born.  November 5, 1991, was more than just Election Day for the Pomponi family; it was the day Grace was delivered at St. Joe’s hospital in Stamford.  However, her mother’s labor was not very easy until her husband ran into the hospital frantically trying to get to his wife’s side in time.  “My dad was voting when my mom went into labor,” says Pomponi. “So my life’s been pretty hectic since day one.”
As an honor roll student, varsity athlete, and state-certified EMT, Pomponi is always on the move. 
“Afternoons are the busiest times for me because I have cheerleading practice from 4:00 to 6:00 everyday along with Post meetings, EMT classes, and, of course, homework,” explains Pomponi. “This year at Post has demanded a lot of my time because, along with all the other sophomores, I have to take a 120 hour EMT course in order to become a state-certified EMT.”
What’s her secret? What enables Pomponi to not only participate but succeed in so many different demanding programs?
Close friend and cheerleading teammate Jorden Cappiello says, “Grace has a level of determination and focus I’ve never seen in anyone else.  When challenged with a task, Grace gets fixated on succeeding.”
Freshman cheerleader Meg Murphy agrees and says, “Grace is an awesome flyer.  She’s the kind of athlete that will work all day just to perfect the stunt.  She is also a great leader to the underclassman because she’s very approachable and I can talk to her about anything.”
Although she works hard and is focusing on achieving her goals of going to a good college and majoring in nursing, Pomponi’s determination and hard work isn’t all she’s known for. Her bubbly and energetic personality seems to always make her the center of attention and the life of the party.  Outside of the classroom and sports fields Pomponi certainly knows how to have a good time. 
Would her peers agree? Absolutely.  Cappiello even goes as far as to describe Pomponi as, “the craziest person I know.”  In fact, a specific cheerleading practice when the team’s 6’6” and 300 pound trainer entertained the girls by throwing little Pomponi through one of the basketball hoops in the gym comes to mind.  “I remember looking up at little Gracie sitting in the hoop smiling down at me, making a peace sign and I just laughed to myself thinking ‘only Grace would do something like this’.”
Members of the cheerleading team are full of stories about Pomponi’s entertaining behavior and proof the positive impact she’s had on the team, but they may not realize that they have made an even bigger impact on Pomponi’s life. 
“Last winter I was at cheerleading practice,” explains Pomponi, “and I heard some cheerleaders who were already members of Post talking about the program and it sounded like a lot of fun.  I’ve always thought about pursuing a career in nursing and I thought it would be a great experience but the cheerleaders are the ones who helped me get involved and have been supportive ever since.”
Since that day, Pomponi’s life has never been the same.  As someone who used to spend her free time playing many different sports and hanging out with friends, joining Post 53 has forced her to get her priorities straight and sacrifice some of the free time she always had before.
“Its official, Post has taken over my life” Pomponi jokes after she informed she will have meetings at Post all this week, “Sometimes the commitment to Post can be pretty hard to manage.” 
Although one may never understand why a high school student and athlete would be so willing to put more on her plate by training to become an EMT, most fellow Posties would agree that their experiences have made every working hour worth it.
“Post has really allowed me to see things and experience things that I have never experienced before.  Also, it’s a great opportunity that not many teenagers ever get a chance have." says junior Kate Kevorkian, who is a Post EMT.  

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Many have heard the amazing stories about the lives that Pomponi has saved, but what most people don’t know is just how hard she had to work to get there. 
The first step towards being a Postie for Pomponi was a 50 hour summer first aid course. After completing the course Pomponi had to be voted in to become a candidate with the responsibility of cleaning Post for 43 hours (one hour everyday).  Once the cleaning hours were completed, Pomponi had been voted on once again and it was decided she had the proper qualities and dedication to be named a member of Post 53.
However, with the title came more responsibilities.  As a member, Pomponi started her training in the radio room – a room in which she had to answer phones and record times and details of calls. 
After perfecting the radio room position came the task of becoming a rider and the responsibility of bringing the proper equipment to and from the scene.  
After recently becoming an XTRA EMT, Pomponi is now responsible for helping the EMT on calls by taking blood pressures and pulses. 
“Right now I am going through the process of becoming an EMT, which is a lot of work. You have to take state practicals to be certified, but once you pass and you are sixteen years of age it is all you on the scene” says Pomponi.   
Although Pomponi claims her hard work has had big rewards, she never said it was easy.
“Post is a lot of work and as a member you have a lot of responsibilities but what a lot of people don’t realize is that Post can really be a lot of fun.  I wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t” Pomponi later says.  “I’ve become very friendly with my fellow members of Post and we have a lot of fun while on duty.”  What could Pomponi possibly do to keep herself entertained while at Post waiting for a call? You’d be surprised.  “Well if there’s a good crew on duty with me we usually either talk or have a dance party. Or sometimes if the driver is nice he’ll take us out for ice cream!” Pomponi says, smiling as if remembering some funny moments while on duty. “And staying over can be fun too but I always go to bed hoping I don’t get a call in the middle of the night because I hate having to wake up at three in the morning and then again at six.”
Although she admits she loves being referred to as a teenage hero, Pomponi says she’s just a normal teenager with a few more responsibilities and a little less free time.  Like most sophomore girls, Pomponi has to worry about her grades, her performance in sports, and drama between friends, but her focus towards curing the injuries and health problems of her patients is also a part of her everyday routine. Although her commitment to Post 53 has caused some sacrifices in Pomponi’s life, she claims her supportive parents have made difficult decisions much easier with their great advice and encouraging attitudes and also says she has no regrets in joining the program.  “I love being a member of Post and deciding to participate in it was a one of the best choices I’ve ever made.”