By: Rachel Coker
Harpur's Ferry received the Emergency Medical Services Agency of the Year Award from the New York State EMS Council last weekend.
It's a major achievement for a squad that just a few years ago couldn?t staff all the emergency calls on campus. These days, Harpur's Ferry is more likely to come to the aid of other area agencies than to need help with its own calls.
"This is the highest honor that an EMS agency in New York State can get," said Joshua Parsons, a senior who serves as first assistant chief and deputy director for Harpur's Ferry Student Volunteer Ambulance Service.
The Binghamton University group was chosen from among 1,127 agencies statewide. But first, it was selected as the regional nominee from among the 67 agencies in Broome, Tioga and Chenango counties.
"They've grown considerably over the last several years," said Ray Serowik, Broome EMS coordinator and chair of the Susquehanna Regional EMS Council. "They've really worked very diligently."
When Parsons joined the squad as a freshman, it had one ambulance, one fly car and so few advanced-life support providers that it frequently needed help from other area agencies. "Now we have two ambulances, two fly cars and we're able to cover all our calls without a problem," he said.
Parsons said this is the third year in a row that a college squad has received the statewide honor. One reason for their success is that - unlike many other volunteer squads - campus EMS agencies don't have trouble with recruiting, he said.
Harpur's Ferry maintains a roster of 130 to 150 active members. About 100 people apply each semester for 15 to 20 spots. Everyone works at least one three-hour shift per week and new members agree to an especially rigorous training schedule for their first year.
Although most of the volunteers are students, the squad includes faculty and staff members as well as alumni who live in the area, said Parsons, a biology major from Lynbrook. A wide variety of majors are represented, from nursing and premed students to accounting and political science majors.
Serowik said Harpur's Ferry's consistent improvement over a number of years is especially noteworthy because of the natural turnover faced by any student group.
"They're certainly meeting the needs of the university community," he said. "They're in a place where a number of collegiate-based services would like to be."