(TNS) — In 2014, during his freshman year at Utica College, Anthony Scalise III witnessed a female student have a seizure.
Although an ambulance was called, there was no medical care immediately administered and campus security didn’t know what to do, he said.
This inspired Scalise, a part-time deputy emergency medical services coordinator for Oneida County, to start an emergency medical services program staffed entirely by volunteer students and staff on the college campus, he said.
Almost four years later, the agency has 20 paramedics and emergency medical technicians and answers around 100 calls a year, Scalise said.
Utica College EMS began with a club consisting of only four emergency medical technicians, Scalise said. There was apprehension from some people, he said.
“They were afraid to have young individuals, who are adults, treat them,” he said, adding that it was assured that the students received training on medical procedures and patient-privacy laws.
The organization received its state certification in 2015 as a Basic Life Support First Response Agency, and is funded by the college. The group does not transport patients to the hospital, but provides on-scene treatment before an ambulance arrives, Scalise said.
They provide 24-hour service during the fall and spring semesters; in the summer they have staff on campus from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Their station is in the freshman dorms at North Hall on campus, with two rooms to sleep in for overnight shifts.
The group doesn’t have an ambulance, but instead uses a Kawasaki mule all-terrain vehicle that was specially equipped to hold a stretcher. UC EMS takes this to events like the Boilermaker, the Heart Walk and campus sporting events.
The agency also provides training on procedures such as treating wounds and administering naloxone, which is used to counter the effects of an opioid overdose. The program similarly offers medical advice to students who may not know whether to go to the emergency room, urgent care or the health center, Scalise said.
“The biggest thing is being there for our students …,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not always an emergency.”
All volunteers receive training and certification as EMTs at a cost covered by the state. Since their third year, the agency has been offering these courses on campus not just for students, but for staff and other first responders as well. It helps, Scalise said, to train new students as others graduate and leave.
Jim Monahan, the college’s director of the traditional nursing program, serves as the EMS Manager. He said that many of the students are in nursing or criminal justice programs at the college, but not all.
Scalise said he hopes that, with their EMS training, these students return home to serve their community in this aspect.
“They’re really getting that college degree and getting that experience to learn to be an EMT,” Scalise said.
Contact reporter H. Rose Schneider at 315-792-5013 or follow her on Twitter (@OD_Schneider).
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