By Meghan Perri
Inside Binghamton University
When there is an emergency on campus, Harpur’s Ferry, Binghamton University’s student-run ambulance service, is the first to respond.
“We operate 24/7, 365 days a year,” said Naveen Shetty, financial coordinator of Harpur’s Ferry and a senior majoring in biology and economics. “When someone on campus calls 911, University Police dispatch us, and, unlike the other ambulances in the city, we are free of charge.”
Harpur’s Ferry, established in 1973 and made up of more than 100 student volunteers, serves as the primary ambulance service for all on campus, providing basic and advanced life support services. The organization, currently funded solely through the Student Association, is now reaching out to faculty members for additional financial support.
As of next year, Harpur’s Ferry will become a New York State Employees Federal Appeal (SEFA) organization, said Brandon Azoulai, assistant chief of Harpur’s Ferry and a junior majoring in neuroscience. This will allow University employees to donate directly to the ambulance service’s Student Association account.
“We want to appeal to faculty members to help fund us because we are as equally available to them as we are to students,” Azoulai said. “We serve them in everything, whether it is a sprained ankle or a stroke or heart attack.”
In addition to seeking faculty and staff support, Harpur’s Ferry is also looking to pursue federal grants and donations from the Graduate Student Union and other organizations on campus.
Harpur’s Ferry hopes to make several large purchases in the coming years, Shetty said.Along with technological upgrades, the organization plans to purchase a new ambulance to replace one that is over 10 years old and in need of extensive repairs. The ambulance will cost over $150,000.
While the ambulance is an expenditure that has been budgeted for, its price tag makes it difficult for Harpur’s Ferry to budget for other necessities, like replacing aging cardiac monitors that are no longer being produced.
“The cardiac monitors are our primary defibrillators,” Azoulai said. “They take vitals, pulse and blood-oxygen levels, and they can act as an external pacemakers. Not only are they important for patient care, but we cannot function as an advanced ambulance service without them.”
Harpur’s Ferry’s importance to campus and the Binghamton community has been widely recognized. It was named the Broome County 2011 EMS Agency of the Year after providing emergency care and transportation to an estimated 2,000 people during the flood of Sept.2011. In 2005 and 2011, the National Collegiate EMS Foundation named it the Collegiate EMS Organization of the Year, making Harpur’s Ferry the first organization to be honored twice.
“There is a lot to be said for your community members helping you,” Azoulai said. “There is a greater level of empathy, and the response times we have are phenomenal because we are located on campus. We know all the buildings and intricacies of campus, so we are able to get there much faster.”
To make a contribution to Harpur’s Ferry, visit www.harpursferry.org .