In an effort to create a safer campus, YU’s Emergency Medical Service (EMS) club, with the assistance of the club’s director, Dr. Levy Amar, a biology professor at Stern and certified EMT instructor, has established an EMT course at YU that will be offered this spring for the first time on the Beren Campus.
An EMT on campus could act during emergencies, which could potentially save lives. As the first medically knowledgeable people to arrive at the scene, an EMT holds the crucial task of stabilizing the patient and transporting him to a hospital equipped to treat him. When emergencies are time sensitive, such as during cardiac arrest, an EMT’s response time is critical. For instance, as the body undergoes cardiac arrest, blood stops flowing from the heart to the rest of the body until a trained EMT performs CPR. Only CPR and an AED shock machine can pump the heart back into artificial action and circulate blood to the rest of the body. Without CPR and a AED shock machine, however, the heart cannot work to provide the brain and other vital organs with the oxygen transported by blood. After just three minutes, the brain begins to deteriorate which causes irreversible damage, with the patient losing seven to ten percent brain mass each minute of delay. If more YU students obtain EMT licenses, emergency situations can be prevented by our own student population.
As Dr. Amar highlighted, EMT response times can prevent lifelong problems. Unfortunately, Midtown’s slower response time recently led to a close call on Beren campus. On one Friday afternoon, a Stern student called Hatzalah during a medical emergency. The only person close enough to respond to her call lived a few blocks away. By the time he descended from a high penthouse with an emergency medical bag and an ambulance, ten minutes had passed. Although the EMT arrived in time to stabilize the patient, another situation— like a cardiac arrest— may have resulted differently. As Dr. Amar put it, “minutes are important, especially when there’s a time bomb on the brain.”
YC instituted its own EMT class last spring, producing more student EMTs on campus. During a fourteen week course, students divided their lessons between lab and lecture, learning everything from important bodily functions to professional standards. In particular, Dr. Amar highlighted the extra time students in the YC course spend on the EMT’s physical procedures, emphasizing the importance of muscle memory during emergency moments of high adrenalin and the benefit of the comprehensive class.
Both the four month spring 2016 YC course and the intensive 3-week summer 2016 YC course have been a huge success, with every student passing. Dr. Amar began the YC courses per student request, since many sought a course with low travel time, and students loved it. YU EMS co-president Tani Polanski said of the class that, “the teachers were fantastic and really friendly, helpful, and excited about the material…it is a solid amount of work but it’s a very fulfilling and rewarding class and experience.”
Though students from all different majors and all life paths completed the course, the hands-on experience particularly benefits students who might enter health careers. Rebecca Burack explained, “Being pre-med I have taken biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, and a few advanced biology courses which have taught me a lot. While all those classes are great learning experiences and necessary for medical school, the skills and knowledge I gained from the EMT class have taught me so much more. They taught me the skills necessary to save a life in an emergency situation. Having these skills are so important.” Direct patient interaction and real emergency situations help pre-health students receive a sense of a future career.
Dr. Amar and the YU EMS club had planned to continue the courses this fall at YC, but could not find enough students interested to cover the high costs of instructors and equipment. Now, for the first time during the spring 2017 semester, YU plans to hold a class at Stern.
With enough EMT students on campus, YU could create an EMS network in conjunction with Hatzalah to ensure efficient medical care for all emergencies on campus. If another Stern student calls for medical attention, like on that Friday afternoon, Midtown’s slow response time will not jeopardize her chance to receive timely medical attention. Instead, student EMTs on campus will respond to any emergencies themselves as they wait for Hatzolah to arrive.
The student EMS program is currently pending approval. As Adira Koppel, a YU EMT, said, “This is Manhattan, and in Manhattan there is a large amount of traffic. While 9-1-1 and Hatzalah have very quick response times, there is still a significant gap from when EMS are called and when they arrive, and those few minutes can be critical. A student EMS unit on campus could provide interim care until the ambulance gets to the scene, and that care could be the difference between life and death.”