Sara Gosa (left) volunteered at the Rose Parade First Aid station with other youth members.
Sara Gosa (left) volunteered at the Rose Parade First Aid station with other youth members.

by Sara Gosa, President, Polytechnic High School Red Cross Youth Club

In November of 2013, I became a certified Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) at the age of 16. EMRs are trained in first aid, CPR, and much of the basic medical knowledge taught to medical professionals.

I did not expect the ripple of life-changing opportunities I would experience by becoming certified and have since used my skills to volunteer at first aid events throughout Los Angeles County. The most unforgettable of these experiences was volunteering at Red Cross first aid stations during both the 2014 and 2015 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parades.

First, I had to wake up at 3 a.m., which isn’t the easiest thing, and my shift was almost 12-hours long. I was constantly on my feet helping patients or handing out water to dehydrated band members. I was thoroughly exhausted, but the second the 2014 parade ended was the same second I was ready for next year.

In 2015, I worked at first aid stations 11 and 12, two of the last stations along the five mile route. I also chose to volunteer for post-parade events, which was another amazing experience. This year, I again distributed many cups of water, one to a war veteran, who was really grateful for that small gesture. Plus, I was able to work alongside some of the more experienced volunteers whom I admire.

Before 2016’s parade, I plan to improve my training skills and obtain my EMT license. I will also no longer be considered a youth volunteer by the 2016 Rose Parade, and I am ecstatic at the thought of gaining more hands-on experience. Since I will have more time on my hands in the fall, I also plan to apply for Chief of Operations and organize next year’s volunteer teams. I look forward to the New Year’s days to come where I can say I’ve volunteered at 10, 20, or 30 parades, just like many of the wonderful volunteers with whom I’ve worked. I recommend this experience to anyone who is interested to get certified and get involved and I thank the Red Cross for allowing me these opportunities.


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  1. Great story by an exceptional volunteer that I had the opportunity to work with. Glad to hear you will be working Rose Parade in 2016!

  2. Inspiring story. I got my Red Cross certificate in First Aid/CPR/AED in September and have been volunteering since then. I am interested in becoming an EMR but cannot find any classes near me. I searched Red Cross’s SABA and couldn’t find anything within 50 miles. I also tried Google search. Where did you get your training?

    1. EMR is a long and specialized class so we only hold it a few times a year. Continue checking for our next class and follow us on social media for an announcement of the next class.
      Thank you for your interest.

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