By Jason Eiseman
They are at every University of Massachusetts event. They're qualified to do anything from applying a band aid to giving CPR. They are a Registered Student Organization (RSO) dedicated to protecting the lives of UMass students.
First Aid Services, a certified student Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) organization who provides medical attention to people in need at campus events.
All members of the organization are registered EMTs from Massachusetts or other states; university students certified as EMTs from other states are allowed to work with First Aid Services as well.
David Reisman, junior management major, is executive director of First Aid Services.
"With the permission of the Western Massachusetts Emergency Medical Service, they allow out of state certification to transfer over for the level of care we are providing," Reisman said.
The level of care First Aid Services provides is "first responder." They assess the severity of the situation and take the medical precautions they feel is necessary.
"We don't go on-campus calls," Reisman said. "We do events."
First Aid Services works events at the Mullins Center, Fine Arts Center and Bowker Auditorium. They work every event from Southwest Week to Commencement.
In the last year the Service has had 478 patients; most of them coming from big events, like 12 patients at last year's commencement.
Reisman said they had nine patients at the Ani DiFranco Concert last Saturday, including five drug and alcohol related problems — four of which were underage.
Reisman said it is not the job of EMTs to act as police, only to help save lives.
"Anything where people are going to drink, anything where people are going to fight, we have workers," Reisman said.
EMTs from First Aid Services also teach first aid and CPR courses to anyone who wishes to get certified.
"We do classes for anyone who calls," Reisman said. First Aid Services recently trained Dining Commons workers and all hotel restaurant and travel administration majors. They also had a call from a fraternity and will move equipment to the fraternity house where they will certify members in CPR.
First Aid Services is having trouble finding members at the moment.
"We have very low membership right now," Reisman said. "Keeping your EMT is very difficult," he said.
EMTs must go through continuing education classes and training which First Aid Services does provide for its members. A lot of training and education is provided by the Amherst Fire Department, who works closely with First Aid Services.
Reisman also credited the Environmental Health and Safety office for paying First Aid Services and supporting them.
"Any student can join the RSO, but only EMTs can work," Lukas Sturm, senior landscape architecture major, and member of First Aid Services, said. "Anyone can be a member and participate in the classes."
Reisman said people join for different reasons.
"I just got this sudden urge to help people," Reisman said. "It's a great way to build confidence within yourself."
Sturm received his EMT certification when he dropped out for a semester, and began working for the First Aid unit upon his return to the university.
Candice Foster, junior exercise science and health and wellness major, said she became interested in First Aid Services through her experience in the nursing program.
"I was a nursing student for three and a half years, and got my EMT as a sophomore," Foster said.
In addition to working as first responders at campus events and teaching classes for the campus community, First Aid Service also sponsors blood drives with the American Red Cross.
The unit is also currently submitting a grant proposal to get two defibrillators to increase the effectiveness of their response.
Along with Reisman, the unit is structured with four other directors: Cynthia Strock, Director of Training; Leo Phoenix, Director of Operations; Cheyenne Ferro; Director of Administration and Scott Walker is Director of Special Projects.