Maria M. Silva, Special Assignment Reporter
Utica College Emergency Medical services is a first-response, basic life support agency available 24 hours a day on campus. Created three years ago by Anthony Scalise, the UC EMS was awarded the EMS Agency of the Year Award for the area early this year, and it was also recipient of the national HeartSafe Award.
Anthony Scalise, Chief of UC EMS and its founder, explained the basic tasks of the agency on our campus.
“We respond to medical emergencies and provide 24-hour coverage on campus as well as on Burrstone house and Champlin house,” he said.
The agency also provides CPR training and education to organizations and clubs on campus, as well as coverage during events such as the Boilermaker, the UC Unity Walk, America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk, and sporting events.
“In an event of an emergency, our main goal is to reduce response time, and to be able to provide emergency and immediate care,” Scalise said.
The agency has now 22 New York state Emergency Medical Technicians, including staff, faculty and students.
“UC EMS has a subgroup off of the agency, the Utica College Emergency Medical Alliance, a student-based club on campus for those that may not be interested in becoming EMTs,” Scalise said.
In total, the club itself has now approximately 50 students, according to Pioneer Place.
In the beginning, the student Health Center oversaw UC EMS, but just recently, the agency has transitioned to cooperate with Emergency management.
“If there are any events or drills, EMS will be part of it to support the students and the wellness of the campus,” he said.
UC EMS offers training and courses for students in the medical or the law enforcement field, although students in other majors can join as well.
The agency helps students develop their medical skills and their knowledge base.
“For the people who are going to medical school, the agency provides community service hours, and provides them hours for them to volunteer and get some experience in the field,” he said.
Scalise also talked about the awards that the agency received early this year. They became the agency of the year out of every fire department and ambulance agency in Oneida, Madison and Herkimer county. This came from the overall New York State Department of Health and the Mid-state EMS Agency that oversees all the agencies in the area.
“We also became recipients of the HeartSafe award which is a national recognition that awards the best colleges in the country that have EMS presence on campus,” said Scalise.
The agency’s EMT crew received both awards with “surprise and excitement,” according to Scalise.
However, the campus EMS agency has also faced some difficulties since its creation.
“Our main problem has been to try to get the word out, who we are and what we do,” Scalise said. “Students are used to calling 911 if there is an emergency, which is great, but it is also important to know that the service is here, run by other students, staff and faculty that can come and help them.”
UC EMS was created three years ago, and “it is a program that continues to develop.”
In its first semester, they only received six calls because no one was aware about the program. Now they receive over a hundred calls a year.
James Monahan, UC EMS manager, has been overseeing the agency since its creation, and notes that this semester has been the “first time we have been able to provide 24/7 coverage for the campus,” because of the increase in the number of certified EMTs.
As of September 2018, the UC EMS course remains an optional class for those students interested in becoming certified EMTs.
“Those students that are now taking the EMS course are doing it over and above their study, but we are looking forward to making the course permanent, so that the students can get credit for it,” Monahan said. “Offering a permanent class would definitely increase the number of EMTs on campus.”
Wyatt Cayer, a Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation major who is also a New York State certified EMT for our college EMS, explained that he joined the agency a few months before Freshman year, on Accepted Students Day.
“They told me about their service and what they do for Utica College, and I thought it sounded like a blast, being able to help other students,” the sophomore said.
After completing a 7-month EMT course held on campus, Cayer became a certified EMT in New York state, and volunteer for UC EMS.
“The class is running again as of right now, and has been shortened to one semester, and while it doesn’t count for any credits at the moment, it is expected to become a 6-credit course in the near future,” he said.
Another student volunteer for UC EMS is Jennifer Liu, a senior studying Biology at UC, who decided to join the agency “because of the great and positive impact we are able to give to the UC community.”
“Being the first response on scene for a medical emergency and being able to help students, like ourselves, during a difficult time is incredibly rewarding,” Liu said.
The average response time of UC EMS is under 5 minutes of being notified according to Cayer.
“We are usually the first responders along with Campus Safety, and we will see what the problem is and whether or not it is necessary to have them be transported to the hospital, or if we can handle things here on campus,” she said.
According to Liu, the agency has “come from a 4 person EMT organization on campus, to a Mid-state certified agency with 19 certified EMT’s who’s able to provide 24-hour emergency response on campus, offer emergency medical technician certification courses for those interested in becoming a volunteer as well, and experience what no other service on campus could provide.”
As student volunteers, both Cayer and Liu have had to manage their on duty service for the UC EMS with classes.
“Scheduling between volunteering and classes as well as other extra curricular activities can be difficult at times, but we have enough EMTs on board so that it is definitely do-able, and we are able to have someone be able to respond 24/7,” Cayer said.
For Liu, reconciling classes and volunteering as an EMT on campus has been possible thanks to the assistance and cooperation of the professors on campus.
“In the case that an emergency were to occur on campus, we are contacted by campus safety and are able to leave class in order to attend to the emergency,” Liu said. “Without the compassion from the professors at UC, this would not be possible.”
Both Cayer and Liu share their views on the importance of having an EMS agency on campus.
“If there is ever an issue that needs immediate medical attention, it is a good thing to have trained professionals on campus able to give immediate assistance before an ambulance can arrive,” Cayer said. “What UC EMS means to me is an outlet to support my UC community as well as inform and assist those within it,”
Liu states that UC EMS “Brings a component of safety to the campus and also gives back by providing knowledge to others on campus for life-saving interventions.”
“EMS encompasses and teaches qualities that every student should strive to be: compassionate, selfless, caring and willing to help those in need,” Liu said.