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The Free Press

Call 911: It's heartthrob Shawn Ashmore
- Mary Beth Collver, Free Press TV Book

Shawn Ashmore is not a real teen emergency medical technician; he will only hint at the fact that he's even a real teen. But he will play one on TV when "In a Heartbeat" premieres at 7 p.m. Saturday on the Disney Channel.

Ashmore, who played Bobby Drake in the recently released feature film "X-Men," is certain to attract a preteen fan or two. His character, Tyler Connell, is a strong student and football player who has "kind of a crush thing going on" with cheerleader and fellow EMT Val Lanier (played by Reagan Pasternak). Danso Gordon plays Hank Beecham, another football player.

In the pilot episode, all three students must cut short their after-school practices when their beepers signal an emergency. A later emergency call finds Val arriving at the scene of her own father's heart attack.

"In a Heartbeat" is based on actual teen EMT programs nationwide. Ashmore contends that in Disney's version, "what we're striving for is reality. It's not like a documentary show where we give away how to do everything."

Every on-camera medical procedure is overseen by a technical adviser to ensure as much authenticity as possible.

To prepare for the roles, Ashmore and the other actors took a crash course that included emergency response training, viewing documentaries and riding along with EMTs. "I can," he says, "fake it pretty well."

The Free Press