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State Honoree

Photo of State Honoree Nichole Hanzel

Nichole Hanzel

North Dakota

Nichole Hanzel, 18, of Killdeer, N.D., a senior at Killdeer High School, created a youth cadet program for a local ambulance service to raise money for emergency medical care in her small but booming town, to assist at the ambulance squad's station house, and to give junior high and high school students a chance to learn about emergency medicine. Two years ago, Nichole moved from a place where there were almost a thousand students in her class to a small town in North Dakota where there were only 30 students her age. "I was very much against the move," said Nichole. "But I've always been taught that when I feel sorry for myself, I should do something for someone else." When she learned that the Killdeer Area Ambulance Service was desperate for more volunteers to handle a sharp increase in calls due to the area's oil boom, she started taking EMT classes with her parents. But she wanted to do more, and began thinking of other ways she could help while getting other young people involved as well.

Nichole proposed forming a youth cadet chapter to the ambulance director, who loved the idea. Her plan was then announced at school during halftime at a home football game, and several students came forward to join. Nichole's cadets, who now number about a dozen, began by selling first-aid kits and checking blood pressure at a Christmas craft bazaar in exchange for donations. Members also have gone door-to-door soliciting funds to buy supplies for the ambulance squad. In addition, the cadets help out at the ambulance station by washing the vehicles, stocking supplies and serving meals at board meetings. "I can't begin to describe how much I have grown personally," said Nichole, who is now a licensed EMT. "It has certainly changed my outlook on living in a small town in North Dakota."