By Tristen Zimmerman
The SJU EMT Squad was created in response to a lack of readily available emergency medical service on the St. John’s campus. We provide life-saving care to anyone in need including students, faculty and visitors. The squad is made up of 18 students who voluntarily provide 24/7 coverage to the SJU campus. The students on the EMT Squad, in addition to a full schedule of classes, jobs and other campus involvement, are on call an average of 15-20 hours per week.
We don’t take weekends off either—each EMT ends up with about one 12-hour shift each weekend. Not to mention EMTs are typically the last to leave for and the first to come back from semester breaks.
We are the only branch of emergency services that don’t get paid. Life Safety and the SJU Fire Department are not only paid individually for their contributions, but they also receive budgets to run their operations. The EMT Squad is an independent, mostly student-run group. We are not employees of Life Safety and thus don’t receive the benefits they do. We are also not a club as we cannot accept everyone because of certification reasonings, so we are not eligible for the funding other clubs on campus receive. The tiny amount of money we can siphon off of Life Safety’s budget goes exclusively to replenishing our medical supplies, and even that can take weeks to generate the appropriate funds.
When doing bag checks at the beginning of the semester, every single one of the medications we carry was expired.
We still have not been able to replace all of the medical supplies we need. If any other department or group on campus runs out of their supplies—whether it is coffee or printer paper—things are usually replaced the next day. It honestly makes no sense that the same sense of urgency isn’t translated into medical supplies that could save lives. Of all the groups on campus, I would think the one that would receive unlimited funding would be the one that we are counting on to, quite literally, save our lives. The SJU EMT Squad receives almost
nonexistent funding and hardly any support from the campus.
Recent interactions with various campus organizations and personnel have highlighted the lack of respect and appreciation towards EMTs on campus. Though it’s hard to believe these individuals would dismiss us in the same way if they were to require emergency care.
My goal in writing this article is not to suddenly generate funds for the EMTs on campus. We have never even requested the bare minimum of being paid like our counterparts in Life Safety and the Fire Department. The EMT Squad will continue to serve the St. John’s campus proudly; we will continue to drop everything, at any time, to help anyone in need. I only hope to make the St. John’s community more aware of the sacrifices made by student EMTs who wouldn’t hesitate to put your needs before theirs and help you in a time of crisis. I encourage the CSB/SJU community to consider their attitudes towards the SJU EMT Squad and maybe offer simple thanks next time you see a student EMT in the library or sitting next to you in class.
This is the opinion of Tristen Zimmerman, CSB senior