Spring on the York College campus

Student-Run EMS

York College EMS students and staff stand in front of their new Emergency Medical Services van in the campus quad, during the ribbon-cutting for student EMS.

Brandon Cain ’23 remembers the night a girl in a first-year dorm injured her knee. From the time the ambulance was called until it arrived, she waited 22 minutes. Fortunately, she wasn’t alone. A state-certified EMT, Brandon checked her injury, provided her comfort, and tried to keep her calm until help arrived.

He saw an opportunity for the College to have its own EMS program. He and his twin brother, Brody Cain ’23, were among a group of students who decided it was a cause worth pursuing.

“The delay for ambulance service isn’t necessarily the agency’s fault,” Brandon says. “It has a lot to do with resources being spread too thin. And while we may not be able to do a lot about that aspect of things, we can have the same level of care directly on campus.”

Both Biology majors, Brandon and Brody want to pursue medical school after graduation. For Brandon, that means a career in pediatric surgery. For Brody, it’s cardiothoracic surgery. 

With 10 students already certified in state EMS training, and several more ready to embark on the training, the Student EMS program has four faculty advisors who help guide the students while giving them the freedom to manage it.

The student-run EMS program can’t transport someone to the hospital, but the EMTs who staff it can provide the same care. Student EMTs can arrive much faster than an outside ambulance service. It’s free for students who would otherwise have to pay a charge for a traditional ambulance company to be dispatched, even if they don’t go to the hospital.

“Doing this doesn’t just help me be a better provider, it helps me be a better leader,” Brody says. “I have much more respect for people in positions of leadership. They have to put everything together, make decisions, and facilitate expectations.” 

For Brandon, it helps confirm his hopes to be a surgeon. Just as each call is different, he knows each challenge he’ll face in the operating room will be different. “It’s a great training course for seeing the magnitude of the impact you can have in someone’s life,” he says.