Student EMTs save a man’s life at the Dome
As it came down to the crucial seconds at the March 18 men’s NIT basketball game when things could go either way, three University students had already made the evening’s biggest save-before the game even started.
Moments before the 7 p.m. tip-off at the Dome, Syracuse University Ambulance (SUA) emergency medical technicians Elisse Collins, Martha Baker and Carolyn Conley were called to the Section 104 of the stands to respond a man who collapsed.
Upon arriving at the scene, the three student EMTs soon discovered the man was in full cardiac arrest-unconscious and not breathing. Working together and according to learned procedure, they began the medical response to attempt to resuscitate him as paramedics were dispatched.
“My partners and I were all up and ready to go,” Collins says. “As soon as I saw the patient, I knew it was a serious situation and we needed to act fast.”
Once at the patient’s side, Collins questioned bystanders about what happened, while Baker immediately prepared the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED). Conley began putting together the BVM, a machine used to deliver oxygen.
Baker then opened the airway and checked for breathing, while Collins checked for a pulse and, finding none, attached the AED to the man’s chest to administer a first shock to the heart. The first attempt regained an initial heartbeat and breathing but did not sustain a pulse. Baker and Conley provided oxygen to the patient and monitored the vital signs. Following a second shock, the man’s heart restarted and breathing returned, as paramedics arrived at the scene and took over.
The man was soon stabilized and transported to Crouse Hospital, where he was listed in good condition and recovering. The man, his family and the hospital emergency department physician all credit Collins, Baker and Conley for their life-saving efforts.
“Too often it’s the tragic events that have brought out heroism in people, so it’s all that more special when something heroic is done with a good outcome,” says Tim Perkins, emergency medical services manager for SUA. “This man may live to be 100 years old thanks to the efforts of these students and, as far as I’m concerned, these three are heroes.”
Collins and Baker received their certification as EMTs last January from the New York State Department of Health, based on their participation in the Emergency Medical Technician Training Program at Rural/Metro Medical Services. Collins, a junior pre-med student from Chicago, and Baker, a junior biology pre-med student from Brookfield, Conn., successfully put their recent training to the test on this first major call.
Conley, a junior psychology major with a pre-med track from Berwyn, Pa., has been working as an EMT for several years.
“Our training really helped, because we each knew what had to be done, so we each did one part of the job,” Conley says.
SUA is a division of the University’s Health Services, which is located in the Division of Student Affairs. The SUA staff consists of approximately 60 volunteer student members, including several student supervisors, a full-time EMS manager and a full-time dispatcher. The organization has existed since 1973 and has been providing pre-hospital emergency care to the SU community as well as the surrounding areas. SUA is a basic life support provider. Advanced life support is provided by Rural/Metro Medical Services.
“Joining SUA has been one of the best decisions in my college career so far,” Baker says. ” Not only have I learned a lot, but I’ve also met a lot of wonderful people and have developed a close-knit, family-like relationship with many of the members. And it’s these close-knit friendships that help people successfully work together on calls and to save lives.”
All three students say that volunteering as EMTs gives them poise to handle all of life’s situations.
“This experience has given me a lot of confidence as an EMT and has also reminded me how precious life really is,” Collins says. “I know that I have a lot more to learn. But I’m sure that everything I learn, in and out of the field, I will be able to take with me in life.”