CC EMS Shoots for Long-Term Sustainability

You may have seen them meandering around Blues n’ Shoes as you were thrown off the mechanical bull, or standing on the sidelines during club sports games; maybe you have even run from them at an off-campus party. However, Colorado College Emergency Medical Services (CCEMS) is dedicated to the student body, and they have no desire to get anyone in trouble.

“We’re not cops, and we’re not campo; that’s not our prerogative,” said Nick Ravich, one of the two deputies for CCEMS, an organization of students who are passionate and dedicated to providing emergency medical services to the CC community.

The squad is entirely student-run and works in collaboration with Campus Safety, the Colorado Springs Fire Department, and Penrose Hospital to provide medical care for the CC community. As such, it is imperative to them that students know they are there to help, not reprimand. “One of the greatest moments was when we saw some kids running when they saw us and then they were like, ‘Oh it’s just the EMTs! We’re good!’” said Ravich with a chuckle.

While the group of students involved in CCEMS is relatively small—it rarely exceeds more than 15 people—the work they do is significant on this campus. It is no small feat to go through EMT training on the Block Plan. While some students were EMT-certified prior to arriving at CC, many others took the class in conjunction with their block and other commitments.

In addition to their initial training, members of CCEMS are required to attend a monthly training to maintain their skills on top of weekly meetings. Shifts take place on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as at special events and club sport happenings. They also work high-incident nights, such as Halloween.

Photo Courtesy of CCEMS Facebook Page

Eden VanDevanter, the Executive director of CCEMS, emphasized that the group does not have a lot of oversight from other groups on campus concerned with student health and safety. “All the programs that we’ve initiated are all student led,” she says. Ravich echoed this sentiment, saying that occasionally Campus Safety will ask them to work an extra night, but generally, the students decide when to add an extra shift.

According to VanDevanter and Ravich, they want to be out patrolling on nights like Halloween, because they genuinely love what they do and they want to ensure they are working on nights that calls are more likely to come in.

The autonomous nature of CCEMS can create an added challenge for the group because they are constantly fighting an uphill battle in terms of building a reputation. The group was created four years ago with a very clear vision and lofty goals. VanDevanter sees the main challenge with CCEMS as “not creating that platform but continuing [it] with success. Right now, we’re in that phase where we’ve made something and now we need to sustain it.”

Whereas most student organizations struggle with maintaining members, CCEMS has a fairly good retention rate. According to Ravich, this is due to the intense and highly selective nature of their hiring process. They only hire people who show a clear commitment to the work and a keen interest in helping people. Ravich emphasized that they look for students with “innate patient care” and good bedside manner.

Thus, CCEMS does not face the typical challenges when it comes to student organization upkeep. They are, however, constantly trying to prove their legitimacy to the Colorado Springs medical community. While the group works closely with someone from Penrose Hospital, their ultimate goal is to be a part of the 911 system.

Often, people call 911 even when CCEMS might be quicker to respond. He argues that CCEMS is “as qualified or more qualified than people who work on ambulances. But because we’re students…Colorado Springs looks at us as CC kids. We can’t really make mistakes.”

The calls they get are primarily alcohol-related, which is pretty much what Sophie Redpath, a junior on the team, expected to see when she joined. However, they also get a lot of calls related to mental health and as such, are interested in shifting their focus towards increased training in that area.

While VanDevanter told me that Ravich is the primary force in this effort, she sees it as a priority as well. She said that the group has seen suicide as a major issue and one that see more and more prevalence of in their calls. While EMT training incorporates a small unit on mental health, it seems woefully inadequate given the disproportionate amount of cases on a college campus.

VanDevanter went on to say, “we want to be able to provide that care that can lead to a successful experience at CC.” This care includes a heightened awareness of the kind of mental health services on CC’s campus so they can tell students about the resources available to them.

Recent efforts on the behalf of CCEMS to improve their response to mental health emergencies are an important element of adaptable health service provision. While they are currently in the initial stages, the group plans to work with the counseling center as well as the Wellness Resource Center as they develop and expand their training.

they don’t believe that is feasible in the near term. This year, they have shifted their focus to defending Palestinians against the human rights violations of the Israeli government, paying specific attention to an Area C campaign, focusing on an area particularly vulnerable to demolition of Palestinian homes by the Israeli government. They decided to politicize the Sukkah because, as Boockvar-Klein said, they “felt it was important to make the connection between Sukkot, a day that commemorates the Jewish peoples’ displacement, and the current displacement and occupation of Palestinian people.”

On Monday, J Street U will host speakers Karen Isaacs and Daniel Roth, who started a program called Achvat Amim, which brings diaspora Jews to Israel to experience the realities there first hand and to teach them community-organizing skills. Achvat Amim was recently defunded by an Israeli agency that considered the program too political. J Street U at CC hopes to continue to raise awareness of social justice issues in Palestine through this speaker series. They hope to have a big turnout of people to show solidarity for the work done on social justice in Palestine.

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