EMT extraordinaire: Princeton High senior loves being a first responder

Published February 22, 2018 in the Princeton Packet
By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer

There’s something about riding down Nassau Street in an ambulance, with the lights and siren on, that first responder Lana Musa can’t get enough of.

“There’s literally nothing better than that,” said Musa, a senior at Princeton High School, who, when she is not doing classwork, is in the business of saving lives as a volunteer for the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad.

“I love it, I absolutely love it,” said Musa, 18, in a recent interview at the squad headquarters on North Harrison Street. “Interacting with the people in our community is great.”

In 2017, she did a lot of interacting with the public.

She took more calls, 282, than any other squad member — unusual for a high schooler. Last month, at the squad’s installation dinner, she was recognized for her accomplishment, a high honor within PFARS.

Musa estimates that she does 50 to 80 hours of shifts each month, and also responds to calls when she is off duty. In the summer, she was doing more than that, around 150 hours a month.

“It definitely takes a lot of time management, that’s for sure,” she said of balancing her responsibilities at school and at the squad. “And I’m not going to lie, I definitely lost some sleep because of PFARS.”

When she does sleep, it is done at the edge of her pager going off; if a call comes in during the wee hours of the morning, she will rouse herself, get on the road and respond to whatever emergency awaits her.

Yet she finds it manageable, as she can squeeze in some studying and schoolwork when she is at the squad. She embraces the challenges that come with being an EMT and relishes the camaraderie of other squad members.

“We kind of make riding a fun thing. It doesn’t feel like work at all,” she said. “I absolutely enjoy it.”

Volunteering for PFARS runs in the Musa family. One of her older sisters, Susan, now attending Mercer County Community College, was the first to join when Lana was 14. The three other siblings followed suit.

“Our mom loves it,” Lana Musa said. “She’ll hear a cool call go off on the pager and she’ll drive to see it, just to do a drive by.”

“She’s very involved,” said Adam Musa, Lana’s twin brother, of his mother.

In Lana Musa’s case, she joined, in the summer of 2016, as a cadet, and has remained ever since. Responding to a crisis might be a career path, as she said she is interested in emergency medicine, either as a nurse or a doctor.

While Musa is young, so are many of the other PFARS members.

The bulk of the squad is made up of younger people, said squad President Mark Freda. Those between the ages of 18 to their mid-20s represent a significant number, including college students.

“You get people when they’re the most enthusiastic, when they have the most energy, when they’re willing to do the most good for the world,” he said.

Yet the experience also helps mold young people — fast.

“So there’s a certain level of maturity that you gain really quickly in the back of that ambulance. And you either figure out that you got it or you don’t. And if you don’t, you go away,” said Freda.

Photo: From left to right, the Musa family: Lana, Adam, Susan and Dahlia, all volunteers with PFARS.