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Skidmore College

Student-run EMS goes live

August 23, 2013

Student-run EMS goes live

Aug. 23, 2013

Did you know that if anyone on campus calls Skidmore’s emergency phone line with a medical emergency, Campus Safety will dispatch student EMTs to provide immediate medical care? And that, with Campus Safety officers managing the scene, the student EMTs will either treat and release the patient or transfer care over to the Saratoga Springs Fire Department for hospital transport?

The service begins the new academic year at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, operating 24/7 through Monday, Sept. 2. Once classes begin on Tuesday, Sept. 3, the service will be available from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 24/7 Friday through Sunday.

Launched last spring after several years of planning and committee deliberations all across campus, Skidmore College Emergency Medical Services is a collaboration among the Student Government Association and Skidmore’s offices of Student Affairs, Health Services, and Campus Safety. In its first two months, SCEMS handled 42 calls, including 27 patients being treated and released and 12 transferred for ambulance transport. According to founder and program chief David Goroff ’14, callers sought help for medical, trauma, and intoxication issues. He says, “We’ve had great feedback from other students. In particular, students who were marginally injured really appreciated having someone on campus to care for them, rather than having to go to urgent care or the hospital.”

Along with enhancing the level of care that first reaches students, staffers, faculty members, or visitors to campus in a medical emergency, SCEMS also benefits its student participants, who are required to be New York State-certified EMTs in a rigorous, ongoing training process. (Those who are only CPR-certified can assist.) In the spring semester, some 25 students were listed as SCEMS members. Half of them, including the three chiefs—Goroff, Mark Benhaim ’14, and Dan Schwarz ’13— had earned advanced or basic EMT certification, while the others, like pre-med student Sarah Watson ’14, had CPR credentials with plans to pursue EMT certification. Says Dean of Student Affairs Rochelle Calhoun, “Community service, civic engagement, and service to others are qualities that Skidmore strives to instill in its students, and SCEMS succinctly links those goals with learning, leadership, and responsibility.”

Madjiguene Ciss ’14, a gender studies major and chemistry minor from the Bronx, was mostly an observer during the spring, since she was not yet certified. A pre-dental student, she joined SCEMS in part because it took too long, in her estimation, for local EMTs to attend to a friend of hers at a campus party. “I thought it made sense to have more on-campus medical support, especially at big events,” she recalls. Ciss also believes SCEMS is a “good opportunity to work on my leadership and communication skills and be involved in a health-related activity.”

Looking forward to SCEMS’s first full year, Goroff said summer plans included conducting joint training exercises with Campus Safety. An on-campus EMT class, open to both students and area residents, will be offered in conjunction with the Regional Emergency Medical Organization. And plans are under way to work with the Saratoga Springs Fire Department (SSFD) on joint preparation for potential large-scale campus emergencies. “These students are offering a valuable service to the Skidmore community, especially at large parties and dances,” says Director of Campus Safety Dennis Conway. “Three of our own EMT officers are serving as liaisons with the students, and the more time we spend together, the more seamless our operation will be.”

A member of the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation, SCEMS is directly supervised by Skidmore’s medical director Albert Jagoda, student chief Goroff, and administrator Calhoun. An advisory board includes Skidmore’s directors of Campus Safety and Health Services and the chief of the SSFD.

(Cover photo: SCEMS chiefs Dan Schwarz ’13, David Goroff ’14 and Mark Benhaim ’14, photographed on campus in the spring.)

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