Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Student first responders balance EMS shifts with homework

A community of passionate students provide support services on campus
Daily Collegian archives (2015)

For emergencies on the University of Massachusetts campus, student firefighters and EMTs are on the job.

Both University of Massachusetts EMS and Amherst Student Force are responsible for campus first responder services. UMEMS is a student emergency medical services organization, helping with emergencies at larger campus events. Student Force is a group of student firefighters who respond to alarms on campus and in the Amherst community.

Students in both groups are balancing their time between working an intense job and their personal schoolwork. Both organizations require the capacity to respond quickly in situations and various trainings and certifications.

UMEMS is a group of about 120 students on campus. They work to manage events and mediate medical emergencies on campus.

“Our agency is kind of different from a lot of other agencies on campus,” said Colby Myers, a junior psychology major and UMEMS executive director. “There’s definitely a lot that goes into it, but we get a lot out of it. We are a really close group.”

Those part of UMEMS are required to have their National EMT certification, Massachusetts EMT certification and CPR certification, as well as tested competence through UMEMS.

“We do event standby, so we just work all the events on campus that go on, pretty much any event that has more than 50 people we staff,” Myers said.

At UMEMS, students will take shifts, almost solely on campus, as they choose.

“After we check all of our equipment and make sure it’s good to use, we call UMass Police Department to say that we are sending two EMTs to this event at this location … and then we basically just stand by and observe, and if anyone needs any medical attention we provide it,” said Antonio Santana, a junior biochemistry and molecular biology and psychology double major, and UMEMS director of administration.

“Then since we don’t have an ambulance on campus, we use our radio to call UMass Dispatch or UMPD as our dispatch and they will coordinate an ambulance to our location,” Santana said.

In the Amherst Student Force, student firefighters run drills and train to respond to fire alarms on campus and in the nearby area. They have their own engine, which is held at the North Station. They staff Engine 3 every weeknight from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. and 24 hours on the weekend.

“Only students ride that engine, so there is a student driving it, there is a student officer responsible for the crew and then students in the back,” said Cole Gustin, deputy chief and senior biology major.

Sherly Gomerez, a freshman animal science major, is a firefighter on the force. Her shift on Tuesdays starts at 6 p.m. at the station.

“During that time, we also drill. So we pull lines, we practice how to search on a building without visibility, we pull ladders, we open hydrants,” she said. “We learn how to move with the hose. It’s a lot of technique, so learning techniques.”

The Student Force responds to both still alarms, when a fire alarm goes off on campus, and a box alarm, which is in response to an actual fire.

“If you get a call you have to put your bunkies on, your pants, your jacket, zip up, once you get into the truck that’s when you put on the oxygen pack. Then you head to the call,” Gomerez said.

Collaboration is essential for both UMEMS and the Student Force. Both jobs require team effort and cooperation.

“I love the people,” Santana said about UMEMS. “You meet so many like-minded people. A lot of people are motivated, and a lot of people are driven. It’s a good place to hone your skills and improve on any skills that you need improvement on.”

Santana never worked as an EMS responder before joining. “It was really nice to have people my age in similar circumstances as me to ask them questions and see what works for them,” he said.

Gomerez noted that she enjoys the thrill of working in a fire station.

“I like the adrenaline,” she said. “And just working with everyone, collaborating, meeting new people, they’re all really cool. You don’t get to go in a fire truck every day, it’s just the thrill. I love learning new things.”

Myers emphasized that even though UMEMS work on campus, they are students first and foremost.

“If people see us around working shifts and stuff on campus, we are there for everyone’s safety, but we are also college students, and we want to help any way we can,” he said.

Eve Neumann can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *