Student led Emergency Medical Services team ready to respond when seconds count
A team of 35 volunteer students are ready and equipped to respond to calls for medical help on the Biddeford Campus. From 7 p.m. until 7 a.m., several members are on call and can be on the scene of a medical emergency within minutes.
“Depending on where the medical emergency is on campus, we can be there very quickly to start rendering basic first aid and basic life support, while we wait for an ambulance,” said Jacob Audet (Medical Biology, ’21), co-chief of UNE’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS). “In EMS, seconds and minutes count.”
“If it is something serious, I think it's very important to have people who are medical providers right here on campus,” added EMS member Liam Prescott (Medical Biology, ’22). “Even if it is a short wait, it can feel like a very long time for people who need help.”
The EMS team works under the umbrella of UNE’s Office of Safety and Security. Audet and Prescott, along with Mitchell Becker (Medical Biology, ’21), Billy Kiernan (Nursing, ’21), and Wyatt Blackstone (HWOS, ’22), are the five officers who oversee the operation.
Team members carry backpacks filled with medical supplies, everything from medications, to oxygen tanks, to gauze and wraps. Fifteen of them are licensed EMTs, certified to administer medications.
“Sometimes Biddeford’s ambulance will get the call the same time as us, but other times we will be first on the scene and we will decide if an ambulance is needed,” explained Prescott.
Both Prescott and Audet volunteer with the service to gain valuable health care experience. Prescott wants to become a physician assistant and spends his summers as an Emergency Room technician at Cape Cod Hospital. Audet also volunteers back home in Connecticut during the summers and works part-time during the school year for Kennebunkport’s EMS.
“Working with UNE’s EMS starts giving you the exposure of what could possibly happen during medical emergencies,” Audet stated.
Beyond the experience, Audet says he really enjoys the camaraderie among team members.
“This is something that has become part of my life in a way,” he said. “It's funny to say, because everyone says that. But, it is a very good group to hang out with.”
Balancing their time with EMS, studies, and other activities can be tough for both Prescott and Audet.
“My schedule is definitely my lifeline, but I have found that you get really good at time management,” Audet commented.
The team is always looking for new members, students just starting out and those looking to get their EMT licenses.
“We go over all kinds of medical scenarios and trauma events,” Audet explained. “We do some training for those members working towards their license and advanced training for those who already have their license.”
One thing Prescott would like to see more of is training to help team members maintain good mental health, so he invited UNE alum James Boomhower, B.S. ’11, a critical care transport specialist and paramedic with Boston MedFlight, to speak to the EMS team. Boomhower started Fit for Duty, an organization to help medical professionals treat their mental health with the same dedication and tenacity as they treat the physical health of those they took an oath to help.
“This is something we've all talked about for awhile,” said Prescott. “We want to have James come and talk about ways to keep our mental health strong during times like this, with all the heightened tensions we’ve seen this year. Sometimes you deal with traumatic issues and we want everyone to be prepared and to train to keep up good mental health during awful situations.”
Boomhower will give a virtual presentation and talk to the team and others on Nov. 19.