Darlene Dougherty, a sophomore at Academy Park High School, attends the DCTS Emergency and Protective Services program at the DCIU Folcroft campus and the Delaware County Training Center taught by instructor Paul Tresca and assistant Rich Caruth. Like many other DCTS students, Dougherty said the hands-on learning approach of the technical school programming appealed to her and brought more meaning to regular classroom disciplines, especially with her career goals in emergency services and law enforcement.
Only weeks after she was one of 40 students in the class receiving CPR/AED certification, Dougherty was at home in Folcroft, ready to run an errand with her dad, Joe. She looked out the window and saw him on the ground next to his truck.
“I was the only one home who could handle this. I jumped over a table and down 13 steps,” said Dougherty, noting her little brother, grandmother as well as mother returning home all added to a sense of chaos she had to overcome.
Dougherty ran outside, calling 911 on the way, and yelled to a neighbor for help. She instructed the neighbor to hold her father’s head to prevent any further head or spinal injury while she performed “textbook CPR,” according to Tresca’s recounting of the incident.
Paramedics arrived within minutes, taking over CPR and administering an AED (Automated External Defibrillator), bringing Joe Dougherty back to life. The Doughertys learned later kidney stones had created the crisis.
“My teachers really taught me something that I could use. It’s so different when you are in class for two hours and studying what you like,” said Dougherty.
Skills needed for the Emergency and Protective Services course include critical thinking, judgment and decision-making, problem solving and a high degree of motivation and self discipline.
Dougherty gave those attributes a true-to-life face, saying, “I would have given the same care to anyone, but it was my dad. I had to stay calm, do what I was taught and make no mistakes.
“What she did was unbelievable. But I have to thank Paul (Tresca) a lot for doing what he does in the class,” said Joe Dougherty, a retired corrections officer.
Although only 16, Darlene Dougherty has a clear view of what she wants to achieve in the future. She will further study EMT courses at DCTS, join the U. S. Marines for a stint, and then become a police officer.
“Darlene wanted me to stay in law enforcement, but it was time for me to retire,” said her dad, who now has the luxury of watching his daughter fulfill her ambitions.