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Student EMTs Gain Skills, Awards

Landmark Campus Organization Earns National Recognition

Members of the UMass Lowell EMS program train for emergency response situation. Photo courtesy of UMass Lowell EMS.

By Julia Gavin

Members of the UMass Lowell Emergency Medical Services organization have helped thousands of people since the group’s formation in 1984. By responding to health emergencies and supporting local events, students learn key career skills for health-related and other paths after graduation. While every year is exciting for the group, this academic year has been especially busy with awards and advanced training opportunities.

Setting the “Gold Standard”- Twice

The University EMS team won one of just four Striving for Excellence Awards at the National Collegiate EMS Conference in early 2013. The award, which recognizes outstanding student EMS teams throughout the U.S. and Canada, sets the “gold standard for campus EMS delivery and care,” according to Tom Miliano, director of administrative services for the transportation department, which supports the program. UMass Lowell EMS also won the award in 2008 and has earned several other awards in recent years.

“The award is public recognition for all of the work that the leadership team and the staff have put in,” says Stephanie Hamelin, an exercise physiology major, coordinator of operations for the program, and supervisor. “It's a testament to our staff's professionalism and dedication, and means we're continuing to meet the precedent set for high standards.”

“The Excellence certification was earned through the student EMTs’ continued dedication to the program, working countless hours day and night to ensure we have complete campus coverage,” says Nick Piscitello, associate director of parking, transport and EMS. “I am very proud of the hard work that the EMS staff members have put in and thrilled that it received national recognition.”
The group also attained one of the highest levels of licensure available to campus EMS programs with a new Class V non-transfer license from the Massachusetts Department of Health. With the license, UMass Lowell EMS has nearly all of the capabilities of a regional EMS service provider. The license allows the students to be even more involved with University and community events such as Lowell Winterfest and the Baystate Marathon where they often provide support.

Professional Development Before Graduation

Students involved with the EMS program have many opportunities to expand their skills both during shifts and at activities organized by their peers.

Several students recently met with members of the Boston MedFlight team at Hanscom Air Force Base to learn more about the challenges of treating patients in the air. The trip, organized by Hamelin, was also a chance for students to meet with professionals in the medical field. The University team has assisted with MedFlight transports before, so it’s especially important for the students and staff to understand how to work well with the team and their procedures.

Over winter break, student EMT Anthony Condo organized two FEMA-led training sessions for University and community emergency responders. The sessions, offered through a federally funded grant, were taught by instructors from Texas A&M Engineering and gave instruction on handling emergency calls involving hazardous materials. While an alum wrote the initial request, Condo was the driving force behind the project.

“It was a great opportunity for students to learn how to deal with hazardous issues in responses and to rub elbows with professionals in the field,” says Condo. He and the other students hope to bring more community training opportunities to campus in the coming months.

Many student EMTs come to the program with an interest in the health field but aren't sure where to begin. The program gives them opportunities to learn about both the front-line and behind the scenes aspects of emergency response, resulting in many participants joining the field. David Rousseaux ’12, secured a job with Trinity EMS well before graduation.

“I worked my way up from cadet through the ranks and then balanced a job with my studies,” says Rousseaux. “I’ve learned a lot through the program that will carry over to my career, and the support from other EMTs, our managers and alumni helps us through.”