Student EMTs answer the call to service

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Jeremy Davis, a senior at SUNYIT, recently held up a sealed plastic bag with a medical gown neatly folded inside.

“I had one call where I had to deliver a baby. That’s when you wear this,” the 22-year-old told the six students gathered on the second floor of the Campus Center as part of a club considering establishing emergency medical services squad on campus.

Davis, a certified emergency medical technician, is one of the founding members of the club that started just last month after Davis went to the campus Health and Wellness Center for advice on his diet, and Jo Ruffradge, the center’s director, spotted a tattoo on his arm and asked if he did EMS.

A fair question.

On Davis’ right forearm is a colorful red and blue fire department and EMS tattoo – a symbol of the passion he holds for volunteering with his hometown’s squad in LaGrange.

Ruffradge asked Davis if he’d like to start the club and see how much interest there was in forming a campus squad. Since then, 20 students have signed up to join the club, and Davis has been holding weekly meetings to introduce them to what an EMT does.

At least 40 colleges and universities in New York state have certified EMS squads on campus, according to the National Collegiate EMS Services Foundation.

Hamilton College in Clinton is currently the only local institution with one and is joining the foundation in celebrating National Collegiate EMS Week, which started Monday.

Students helping students

Davis’ initial interest also built into a meeting of administrators, including SUNYIT President Bjong Wolf Yeigh. They decided that if a sustainable interest could be developed, then the college should work toward state certification to have a squad on campus.

As SUNYIT grows, Ruffrage said a squad on campus seems to make more and more sense.

“Especially with us having more dorms,” she said. “We’re not sure where we’re going. It’s looking good.”

Currently, the Maynard Fire Department serves the campus.

“What we’d really like to do is augment them,” Ruffrage said.

Lt. Robert Girard, the EMS director of the Maynard Fire Department, said starting an on-campus squad is a good idea.

“They are expanding quite a bit up there. When all this progress is done, there’s going to be much more activity,” he said. “I think it’d be great. We’re willing to give them any support they need.”

The college is planning for continued growth over the next few years. The new buildings popping up on campus include a $13.6 million student center, a $20 million field house and a $23.5 million freshman residence hall.

In addition, the new nanotechnology initiative at SUNYIT is expected to increase the college’s profile in coming years.

Hamilton College squad

At Hamilton College, 24 to 26 students usually are members of the Emergency Medical Service, a group formed in 1993 that responds 24 hours a day to medical emergencies on campus.

“I like to think it’s a very important and well respected part of the Hamilton campus,” said EMT Keith Willner, a senior.

Willner, a 21-year-old Ilion native, is a member of the college’s group and also a member of the Central Oneida County Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

He’s now applying to medical schools and has had some resume-boosting real-world experience as an EMT.

“There’s only so much book learning can prepare you for,” Willner said. “I’ve done everything from sports injuries to intoxication.”

Having a squad on campus is advantageous, said Diann Lynch, a registered nurse at Hamilton College and director of the squad, because its members can be almost anywhere on campus within three minutes.

Student EMTs also are used during football games, commencement and special events, such as the recent campus visit of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, which drew 5,000 students and guests to the college’s gymnasium.

“College EMS is unique in itself,” Lynch said. “Their patients are their peers.”

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