RPIA coaches trauma care skills

PARTICIPANTS PRACTICE removing disposable gloves covered in syrup.

Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond may seem all fun and games, but A Day in the Life of an EMT is deadly serious. Hosted by RPI’s own EMT-B volunteers, A Day in the Life of an EMT is an exhibit showcasing the techniques EMTs learn and apply to assist those in need. Student ambulance operators teach incoming freshmen the vital skills an EMT should know, such as how to take blood pressure, control bleeding, use a stretcher, respond to mock calls, perform CPR, and of course, take vitals. Incoming students are taught these skills by being tasked with things like removing bloodied, or in this case, syruped gloves—gloves which were covered in maple syrup in order to teach the students the proper hygienic techniques—and by strapping injured patients to a board for transport, which is referred to as “backboarding.” No wonder Commons Dining Hall ran out of syrup at breakfast!

Volunteer EMT and graduate student John Jacangelo stressed that the services they provide are entirely free of charge, stating a desire for students to be more proactive in recognizing possible personal complications. Most places on campus can be reached by their ambulance within five minutes, though RPI Ambulance’s “Fly Car” can be sent ahead for even quicker response.

“If it’s a cardiac issue, we can drive ‘lights and sirens,” Jacangelo said, explaining that some emergencies are responded to more quickly than others, taking advantage of the emergency vehicle’s special traffic-bypassing privileges.

After being picked up, some patients are taken to Samaritan Hospital, though those whose injuries are more severe are taken to the Albany Medical Center. Some reports come directly, but the EMTs can also be contacted by the local 911 dispatch, Rensselaer County Emergency Communications, through both radio and text.

At least one person is on duty at all times from the hours of 6 am to 6 pm. A typical crew consists of four people: one driver to commandeer the ambulance, one EMT to treat the patient, and a couple attendants or observers to offer additional help. RPI ambulance staffs numerous RPI events, including athletic events, the Rensselaer Union Activities Fair, all NRB events, move-in day, the 5K Fun Run, and Commencement. Student-led clubs can also contact the EMTs in order to schedule their presence at special events.

For those interested in becoming an EMT, no experience is needed. The only requirements are a “can-do attitude” and “[willingness] to learn new things” according to Jacangelo, though not being squeamish is also a rather necessary trait. The process includes a couple of courses, which include CPR for everyone, and emergency vehicle training for those who will drive the ambulance.

According to NRB participant Amy Bordogna ’20, A Day in the Life of an EMT was a very rewarding experience. Her favorite part was the “tour of the ambulance,” especially when they “took out the stretcher, which costs $12,000.”

Another NRB participant, Charles Chapski ’20, commented, “They’ve been fun and educational”—perfect statement to describe the EMTs of RPI ambulance, who have fun hosting events like the upcoming Movies on the Lawn event at their office but, more importantly, do their best to serve and educate the Rensselaer student body.