They are often the first people on the scene whenever students, faculty, or staff have medical issues and help keep us all healthy and safe. They are the members of Santa Clara University Emergency Medical Services (EMS), which was founded by Sam Suleman ’99 and Matt Donnelly ’98.
Operations began under advisor and Cowell Health Center’s Nurse Practitioner Michele Helms on January 12, 1998. Six other students joined Suleman and Donnelly, responding to 126 calls over the first two quarters, including a fire in Graham 400, one of seven calls on the first night.
Suleman worked in the medical profession for a few years after graduating from the University but later left to pursue a career in business. He says that the program has helped both medical and non-medical students.
“I will always remember those 3 a.m. nights on the 7th floor of Swig. They really test you, but it was a great experience,” says Suleman. He further adds that serving as an EMT contributed to a “huge growth in leadership, decision making, and confidence in yourself during difficult situations.”
Annie Cheung, ’12, began working as an SCU EMT at the beginning of this year and is the public relations director for SCU EMS. She says that she has already gained invaluable experience in “patient care…and not just medical care but showing genuine care for a person.” She also expresses gratitude for the opportunity to practice skills she plans on using in the future.
Cheung and the 30 other SCU EMS staff members took part in a mass casualty incident simulation on May 22, in which all students in the program train for a catastrophic event. Some 50 volunteer students acted as patients, including some from the theatre department, while Helms and folks from Student Life, Campus Safety, and Cowell Health Center watched from the sidelines, evaluating their response. The Santa Clara Fire Department was also on hand, acting as mentors, and Cheung says they received great feedback.
“The MCI exercise went really well,” says Cheung. “We normally work in teams of two or three during our shifts, but this simulation required teamwork from the entire staff, and we were successful.”