In October 1997, Santa Clara students Matt Donnelly (’98) and Sam Suleman (’99) approached University administrators about the possibility of starting an on-campus Emergency Medical Service made up of student EMTs (emergency medical technicians). Donnelly and Suleman were both certified EMTs and realized a need for a service that provided basic emergency medical response to on-campus medical emergencies when the Student Health Center was closed. SCU EMS would respond to calls on campus and provide basic emergency care to anyone in need of care, augmenting the City of Santa Clara’s emergency medical system. SCU EMS would decide on an appropriate level of continuing care including an option to activate a 911 response.
Often the appropriate level of care would allow for a transfer to a local hospital in cooperation with the SCU Campus Safety Services or the patient would be given advice to seek further care at the Student Health Center. SCU EMS would allow a lessening of the load on the Santa Clara Fire Department and local ambulance providers, leaving 911 resources available for life-threatening medical emergencies in the rest of the City of Santa Clara. In addition to providing emergency medical care, SCU EMS would increase disaster preparedness on campus and give invaluable firsthand experience to Santa Clara students with a commitment to health education and care for the individual.
After two months of work discussing and coordinating with University administrators, Donnelly and Suleman were given approval to put the program together on December 4, 1997. They received significant help and support from their advisor from the Student Health Center, Michele Helms. Following a month of set-up and organization including issues such as an initial budget, equipment purchases, uniforms, and operational and medical protocols, SCU EMS went into operation on January 12, 1998.
During the first month of operation, Donnelly and Suleman split the shifts covering from 7:00pm to 7:00am seven days a week. In the first week, they responded to eight calls including a major fire event and three serious medical calls. By mid-February, after working out some of the initial issues and procedures, six other students who had previously been certified as EMTs joined Donnelly and Suleman. These students became the founding members of SCU EMS. Through its first two quarters in 1998, SCU EMS provided care to students, staff, and visitors on a total of 126 calls. This offered invaluable experience to Santa Clara students and established a tradition of service and compassion to the University community that still continues today.