Student-run EMS gives valuable experience while keeping students safe
Twins Brandon and Brody Cain ’23 were among a group of students who spent a year getting the program running. They are licensed through the Pennsylvania Department of Health and look forward to making a difference.
Brandon Cain ’23 remembers the night a girl in a first-year dorm fell and 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.
As a student at York College of Pennsylvania, Brandon 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.”
Years of experience
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.
The young men knew from an early age that medicine was a passionate pursuit. They started out as cadets with the Shrewsbury Volunteer Fire Company in 2014. While they couldn’t do much around the firehouse as 14-year-olds, they were ready to pursue their Pennsylvania Department of Health EMT training just two years later when they were 16.
They worked with Glen Rock EMS until they were 18, at which point they received paid EMS jobs and have been balancing shifts with full class loads. “I really enjoy the satisfaction of being able to see the immediate impact you can have on someone,” Brody says. “I took my share of rides in an ambulance when I was younger for doing foolish things. Those EMTs had an impact on me, and I wanted to do the same for others.”
With 10 students already certified in state EMS training, and several more ready to embark on the training, the York College Student EMS program has four faculty advisors who help guide the students while giving them the freedom to manage it.
“We want students to know that just because we are on campus doesn’t mean we provide any less care than an ambulance,” Brody says. “We are trained at the same level. We carry most of the same equipment. It’s a better service that makes sense for students.”
While the student-run EMS program can’t transport someone to the hospital, the EMTs who staff it can provide the same care. That’s a benefit for students in many scenarios. For one, the student EMTs can arrive much faster than an outside ambulance service. Secondly, 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.
Student EMTs also have the opportunity to assess the care someone needs, perhaps calling 911 for transportation to the hospital or simply providing care that’s needed and letting someone go. For instance, when police or campus security may be called, there’s also the reassurance fellow students can give by letting someone know they aren’t in trouble—they just want to help.
“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. “I’m grateful for the experience.”
How to help
Those interested in learning more about the student-run EMS program can email firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the Campus Safety Office in the Manor Northeast Lobby.