As a field supervisor for UML’s student-run Emergency Medical Services (EMS
) team, Joe Mendes vividly remembers his first planning meeting for the Lowell Folk Festival, an event that draws around 150,000 music fans to the outskirts of campus each summer.
“I walked into the room and there was someone from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency sitting at the table with all the chiefs and deputies from the Lowell fire and police departments,” he recalls. “They introduced me like, ‘This is Joe. He’s a college student from UMass Lowell.’ It was pretty crazy.”
Having a seat at the table with emergency response professionals is just one of the ways in which Mendes, an honors
major from Mendon, Massachusetts, has benefitted from serving as a student emergency medical technician (EMT).
“I’ve met a ton of people and made some really close friends,” says Mendes, who also works as an EMT for Pridestar Trinity EMS, the city’s 911 emergency service provider.
Mendes, whose mother is a medical assistant at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and whose father repairs imaging equipment for Philips Healthcare, has been drawn to the medical profession since middle school.
“Learning in biology class how the human body works — what can go wrong and how you can fix it — was super-interesting to me,” says Mendes, who decided to become a River Hawk after learning about the EMS program on a campus tour.
“The fact that it was run by students on campus was really cool,” he says.
Mendes joined as a cadet during his first year at UML, earned his EMT certification and began working up to 40 hours a week on campus as a sophomore. Promoted to field supervisor in his junior year, one of Mendes’ responsibilities was to coordinate standby coverage for events at the Tsongas Center — something that UML EMS used to assist Pridestar Trinity with, but now manages on its own.
“Scheduling-wise, it’s more of a challenge, but it also gives us really good experience,” he says.
Mendes plans to attend medical school and can see himself in either emergency or family medicine.
“I’ve shadowed a few doctors over the summer, and a lot of them have told me, ‘You might think you know what you want to do, but once you get into rounds and clinicals, you'll figure out what you really want to do,’” he says.
Whichever route Mendes chooses, he knows his EMS experience will serve him well.