Amidst a national conversation on school and campus safety, Fordham University EMS (FUEMS) beat out more than 200 programs nationwide to be named the EMS Organization of the Year at the National Collegiate EMS Foundation Conference, held last month in Philadelphia.
It is the first time in 40 years that FUEMS has received the award.
“It really marks the flourishing of our organization and the epitome of our growth,” said FUEMS Director Marykate Decker, a senior at Fordham College at Rose Hill.
In addition, FUEMS renewed its HeartSafe Campus status, and renewed a Striving for Excellence award. It received a bronze award for “EMS Ready Campus,” which recognizes excellence in emergency management and disaster preparedness.
Decker described the volunteer staff as a balance between pre-med students and others with diverse backgrounds, including business, theology, and the arts.
“A lot of people assume everyone involved wants to be a doctor, but most of our volunteers just want to help out,” she said.
While FUEMS is an official University club, it’s really much more than that, said FUEMS adviser Kathleen Malara, the executive director of University Health Services.
“These students go above and beyond what a regular club would be,” said Malara, citing their rigorous training to be certified by New York City and State.
Malara noted that student volunteers are entrusted with the health, welfare, and personal information of patients in their care. She said the organization has come a long way from the days when it operated out of the back of van some 40 years ago. This year marks her 18th year of being involved with the group and her 16th year as an adviser. She said that each year the group has set the bar higher.
She said that the current FUEMS cohort has made educating their fellow classmates part of the equation. Over the past year alone, FUEMS has reached out to the student body to make it aware of the dangers in high-risk behavior; it has also raised awareness of learning CPR.
Among the group, the FUEMS volunteers have expanded their knowledge of issues related to diabetes and on how to administer Narcan. And over winter break, they took a tactical emergency casualty care course with the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY).
Besides working with the FDNY, Decker said that FUEMS, which is based at Rose Hill, has focused on building bridges with St. Barnabas Hospital, the nearby Bronx community, and Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. As the Lincoln Center campus doesn’t have a FUEMS emergency response team, the Rose Hill campus crew has started to recruit for one by providing free transportation to Lincoln Center campus students who want to train at Rose Hill.
Besides gaining technical knowledge, real-world experience, and city and state certification, Decker said volunteers also live out the Jesuit values of being men and women for others.
“What I’ve really learned is that there is always something bigger than yourself,” she said.