Emergency Medical Services is a Basic Life Support agency on campus made up of trained medical professionals. They are all volunteers, trained to be able to do everything EMTs in ambulances can do. They act as first responders for any medical emergencies on campus no matter how small, helping anyone who is on campus and is injured.
As Chief Ryan Klimkewicz said, “We respond to everything, if you fall and cut yourself, the psychiatric stuff, the flu, if you have appendicitis. We’ve had heart attacks and strokes.” Although only 35 percent of the calls they get are related to drugs or alcohol, this is often understood as their main job on campus. In reality, EMS is so much more than that, whether it be treating individuals themselves or making decisions about whether people should go to the hospital.
The Chief is Ryan Klimkewicz, but there are four other officers who also hold positions and act as supervisors: Captain of Operations Sara Lewicki, Lieutenant of Safety and Training Rocs Spafford, Lieutenant of Personnel Charli Morgan, and Liam Knight, the Head of Recruitment and Public Relations. Each of these people has his or her own role and helps to run the operations while the chief stays in contact with Service Advisor Marty Corbett and the Medical Director, Dr. Jeremy Cushman. There are another 12 members who act as EMTs and will work shifts.
They are all extremely dedicated and do all of this for free. Very few people who join are actually pre-med students. “Ryan, our chief, is a music major … I think only about half of our students are science majors and I think only two are pre-med,” Liam Knight said. “I think there’s a misconception that we’re all trying to be doctors and just put this on our resume, but that’s not true.”
To become an EMS agent, students should go to the informational meetings and then must fill out an application during the fall semester. It will be reviewed and processed generally about halfway through the semester. If applicants are accepted, they will have some preliminary training before taking the certification course in the spring semester. It takes place twice a week at Finger Lakes Community College and is done alongside all of the other classes taken. Then there are ride-alongs the trainees must go on before gaining full certification. Many will become EMT-certified over the summer. After all of this they are able to become full members. This includes HIPAA and privacy training, which is something that is not taken lightly by any members and is heavily stressed by the organization, especially with our small campus. Patient confidentiality is not just a concern, but a necessity.
The experience is said to be one that is very rewarding and intensive. Not only is it time consuming, as these students will work long shifts to accomplish 24/7 coverage, but it provides them with the experience of working as trained medical professionals. The supervisors work 24-hour shifts, and the other members will sign up and be on call for hours at a time, making sure that there is always someone available.
“EMS is one of those things you don’t know if you’re going to be good or bad at it,” Ryan said. Members of the close-knit group really do enjoy doing this work. They are able to use their abilities to train to be the best EMTs the campus can have.
Corrected: April 26, 2019. A Previous version of this article misspelled officer names and misidentified HWS EMS as an advanced life support agency when they are a Basic Life support agency.