NEW PALESTINE – Caring about the well-being of others doesn’t always come naturally to some. For Claire Evans, it’s a way of life.
Claire, 18, New Palestine, may only be a teenager, but she’s already 100% certain of what she wants to do now that high school is behind her.
In June, Claire plans to start training to be an EMT with officials at the Greenfield Fire Territory. The New Palestine High School Class of 2022 graduate has high hopes of being certified by the end of the year. She’ll then push forward with more medical training including getting a paramedic license and advanced EMT training.
“In the end, I’ll be a paramedic,” she said.
Claire’s dream of helping others in need was solidified over the past year when she had to care for both of her parents, Greg and Trista Evans, who were hospitalized with serious cases of COVID.
While Claire helped both after they were released from long stays in the hospital, she also had to keep an eye on her little brother while trying to maintain a normal teenage high school life with school and a part-time job.
While the past few months were some of the toughest of her life, the time was also rewarding because it made Claire certain she could do the tough work of helping people in real need.
“My dad had a collapsed lung, and they had to put the tube in and all of that,” Claire said. “When he got home, he couldn’t care for the wound, so I did that.”
It was during those types of tough moments when Claire realized she could really take care of people, and she felt being an EMT would be a first good step into the health care profession.
“When I was doing that and also helping my mom, I was like, ‘This is what I want to do, who I want to be, helping others,'” Claire said.
This past winter, it was her father who went into the hospital first with a bad case of COVID. Three days later, her mother had to be admitted.
“My dad was there for a total of 20 days, and my mom was there for 40 days on intubation,” Claire said. “I had a family that did help, but it was hard.”
Things were bleak. At one point, Claire took emergency custody of her 9-year-old brother.
He needed to have a guardian for school, and I thought, ‘That’s me. I’ve got him. We’re good, ‘”Claire said.
It was during that difficult family time Claire said she relied on the values her parents had instilled in her about family —doing what is right and needed.
“My parents always taught me to think more with my mind and not just my feelings,” she said. “It helped me to do more rational thinking at a really difficult time.”
Fortunately, Claire’s parents survived COVID. Claire’s mom was finally able to come off of oxygen support about a month ago and is able to work now.
“The whole thing was really very scary,” Claire said. “It definitely was.”
It’s those type of moments Claire said she thinks will help make her a better, more compassionate EMT and paramedic.
Before COVID caused such trouble for the Evans family, Claire had been talking some advanced classes at school and cosmetology classes through the Warren Central Walker Career Program. All of that had to take a back seat when the family emergency unfolded.
“I was taking classes from home, but that was not working for me,” she said. “I was too busy taking care of my family.”
That included preparing meals, doing house chores as well as being a caregiver, nursing her parents back to health.
Still, with the support of school officials, Claire found a way to get the schoolwork done, which allowed her to complete requirements last week in time to graduate with the Class of 2022.
“The whole thing really humbled me,” Claire said.
While Claire is sad she didn’t get to finish the cosmetology work she was doing at the Walker Career Center, she said she was thankful for the opportunity there because she learned a great deal and may do that type of work on the side.
“It’s a really neat program they have over there, and I’m glad our school offered that,” she said.
As for her main career choice, Claire first became aware of EMT work through her father, who took EMT and firefighter training but eventually went into law enforcement where she worked for many years before getting COVID. Claire’s father retired from the New Palestine Police Department after his battle with COVID and now works in the family business with his wife, Trista.
“My dad and a friend of mine who knows about the field told me it’s a great job to get into, and I’ve seen how passionate my friend is about it, so I know it will be for me,” Claire said. “I want to help people, and I’ve always been that way.”