July 25, 2023

Volunteer Paramedic Earning Global Experience With VBEMS

Laura Grabarczyk spent two weeks in Germany learning the country’s EMS system and practicing new ways to help those in need here in Virginia Beach.
Laura Grabarczyk

Laura Grabarczyk has had a busy year.

Aside from finishing her junior year of college at the University of Virginia, Grabarczyk spent two weeks across the Atlantic learning more about emergency medical services and practicing her skills. And on Thursday, July 20, she was officially released as a volunteer paramedic with Virginia Beach Emergency Medical Services (VBEMS).

“There’s been a lot for sure, but I’ve loved every minute of it,” Grabarczyk said.

Grabarczyk has built her life around serving those in need. She joined the Princess Anne Courthouse Volunteer Rescue Squad in 2020 and has volunteered since then, starting as an emergency medical technician (EMT) before elevating herself to paramedic. She remembers wanting to be a doctor since elementary school and that passion has pushed her toward serving her community with VBEMS.

That’s exactly what Grabarczyk had in mind when she applied to be a part of the Virginia Association of Volunteer Rescue Squad’s EMS Exchange Program — a two-week opportunity for five volunteer EMS providers across the Commonwealth to spend time with the Red Cross in Kassel, Germany.

“I have heard lots of ways of doing things, but I hadn’t seen it firsthand,” Grabarczyk said. “I hadn’t seen EMS agencies outside [Virginia], so I really wanted to see a different perspective and see a different side of medicine.”

From May 13-28, Grabarczyk and four other volunteers from the Commonwealth absorbed as much information as they could, learning the German EMS system and practicing new ways to help those in need. She performed all sorts of patient care, inserting IVs, setting up 12-lead EKGs and helping with patient assessments. It was an eye-opening experience, one that Grabarczyk feels incredibly lucky to have had.

“I loved all the EMS stuff. The people there — I absolutely love them,” Grabarczyk said. “I still talk to some of them all day long and it’s been several weeks now that I’ve been home. The people there were absolutely amazing."

Laura Grabarczyk with group of paramedics in Germany

Upon returning stateside, Grabarczyk finished her paramedic internship program with VBEMS and prepared to pass her Tidewater EMS Council and VBEMS oral boards. She passed those on Thursday and with that behind her, Grabarczyk is now exploring a path towards medical school. Until then, however, she will continue gaining experience and serving her community with VBEMS.

“I’m finishing my bachelor’s and then hopefully will work for [Virginia Beach] as a paramedic for a couple years,” Grabarczyk said. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”

“Laura is a prime example of what volunteering with VBEMS can offer,” said Interim VBEMS Chief Bruce Nedelka. “We’re incredibly proud of Laura’s accomplishments as well as all our volunteers for the service they offer the community. Our unique system of career and volunteer providers is nationally recognized for its exemplary service and Laura performs a vital role with us.”

Joining Virginia Beach EMS and VB Rescue is incredibly easy. Visit ems.virginiabeach.gov/volunteer to learn more and start your application today! You can also contact Virginia Beach EMS at vbems@vbgov.com.

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