Teen hero rushes to rescue at Santa Parade

This year's Rockford Michigan State Police Explorers group includes Alex Kilvington (center, front), who helped a fellow teen with a diabetic reaction during Rockford’s Santa Parade December 5. Also pictured are (not in order) Christian Bomer, Samuel Griswold, Zachary Johnson, Grant Longberg, Zachary McKale, Joseph Punt, Sgt. Amber Sauer, Jacob Scheib, Lt. Jonathan Spanding, and Joshua VanKammen (Joseph Flores not pictured).

This year's Rockford Michigan State Police Explorers group includes Alex Kilvington (center, front), who helped a fellow teen with a diabetic reaction during Rockford’s Santa Parade December 5. Also pictured are (not in order) Christian Bomer, Samuel Griswold, Zachary Johnson, Grant Longberg, Zachary McKale, Joseph Punt, Sgt. Amber Sauer, Jacob Scheib, Lt. Jonathan Spanding, and Joshua VanKammen (Joseph Flores not pictured).

Alex Kilvington joined the Michigan State Police Explorers because he’d like to someday have a career helping others. Apparently he’s ready to start doing that right now.

Kilvington was working in his role with the youth Michigan State Police Explorer program at the Santa Parade on Saturday, Dec. 5, when he realized something was wrong. One of the Rockford High School band members was having trouble seeing and breathing. Kilvington said he asked if the boy had eaten. When he found out he hadn’t, Kilvington suspected a diabetic reaction.

Kilvington saw a Michigan State Police (MSP) trooper, flagged him down, located an ambulance, and cleared traffic from the crowded parade staging area by the Rockford Community Cabin on Monroe Street.

MSP Explorer coordinator Trooper Roberto Anaya is very proud of his teen squad leader. He said Kilvington was able to summon an ambulance and get the other teen to the hospital for treatment.

Kilvington said his experience as an MSP Explorer made a difference when he was called to act. “I didn’t really even think about it,” he said, crediting his first-aid training.

Kilvington said his three years in the program have changed him, and he can’t say enough about the value of the experience. The Rockford senior is headed off to Grand Rapids Community College next year and plans to go into law enforcement.

“I recommend the MSP Explorer program to anyone,” he said. “It is a great overview. It amazes me all the things I’ve learned in the last three years. I can’t even describe how well this program is organized.”

The MSP Explorer program is in its fifth year, and is designed to introduce teens to the world of law enforcement. It provides hands-on training in patrol, defensive tactics, firearms, evidence collection, and first-aid. The Rockford group meets weekly at the Rockford Sportsmans Club on Northland Drive.

Anaya said Kilvington has been promoted to the rank of sergeant and acts as a squad leader. He is much more qualified to handle a medical emergency than most young men his age, and perhaps more than most adults.

Kilvington, along with other Explorers, has learned Citizens Emergency Response Training, a program which teaches ordinary people outside of law enforcement how to be of help in a disaster or emergency situation.

“He has really grown a lot, really matured during his time as an Explorer,” Anaya said of Kilvington.

Anaya said the Explorers work actively in the community as in their role as Explorers. During Rockford’s Relay for Life, the Explorers act as security during the night hours and Kilvington was working Santa Parade as an Explorer when this emergency occurred. Kilvington acted exactly as Anaya hopes his team would in such a situation.

“They are very much aware that when you put on a uniform, you are in a glass house. Everyone looks at you,” he said of the responsibility of the position. “When people see the uniform, they don’t see Explorer, they see Michigan State Police. They are representing us. When we accept an Explorer, we are very careful, very selective.”

Anaya said members of the first group of Explorers he worked with are now graduating from college and may be looking for a job in law enforcement. He said the Newaygo Explorers has a graduate of the program who was recently hired by the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

“We might end up hiring one of our Explorer graduates if we are ever in a position to hire again,” said Anaya, pointing out that the MSP has unfortunately had to cut 100 officer jobs statewide.

Explorers need to be high school students and do not have to be from Rockford. The program takes place during the school year, and teens are encouraged to be in the program more than one year. The Michigan State Police has over 1,000 applicants for a recruit school and only 80 to 120 are accepted. Being an Explorer gives potential law enforcement candidates a great advantage in all fields of law enforcement. To find out more about Explorer Post 2610, call Trooper Anaya at (616) 866-4411.

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