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has garnered the reputation among the Fordham populace as being a “taxi to scope out drunk people.” The reality is, intox only account for 30% of their incoming calls (invariably, a lower percentage than most Fordham students’ drunk dials on an average weekend.) Last week, I sat down with a group of the most active club members to discuss the rumors surrounding them, the unfair preconceived stigma linked to FUEMS as a whole, and what exactly inspired each member to have joined this organization in the first place.
Their name all too often gets reduced to its verb form, FUEMed; a frantic action taken in a state of alcohol-induced panic. The club itself, or FUEMS in its noun form, is an afterthought, a table overlooked by many at the club-fair due to its demanding nature. FUEMS, at it’s core, is a club. It follows rules and gets funding, just like the rest of the lot. With all the negativity amassed by the Fordham students, I, by default, unfairly imagined that FUEMS was simply Fordham’s way of keeping tab on those who didn’t apply to live in Queens Court.
In reality, FUEMS is a group of students giving their time to provide the same service as FDNY ambulances, just “without the $700 price tag.” It seems that most of the negative stereotypes that fall on the lap of FUEMS exist because of the Public Safety officers that almost always accompany them to the scene. PS act primarily as moderators. In the interest of protection, they handle the dirty work brought on by the occasional rambunctious individual insisting, through slurred hand gestures, that they “didn’t have too much to drink.”
Not surprisingly, the club members do not have the authority to say who gets into Fordham’s naughty list. There were no Eric Cartman types among them, taking their job too seriously. In fact, the majority of them seemed to encounter troubles because of this idea that they are disciplinary figures. Initiating small talk with patients is met with surprised looks, as if an EMS sweater has suddenly sprouted a head. They constantly stressed that they were just college kids trying to “get the full college experience.” However, they did seem suspiciously reluctant to elaborate on what this entailed…
What they were eager to talk about was what first attracted them to FUEMS, and why they stayed. Many of them started at FUEMS due to personal medical history and the comfort that paramedics provided for them “during [their] darkest times.” Others started because they come from families with medical backgrounds, or because they’re pre-med and seeking a good way to get some practical experience.
Those motives alone, however, would probably have not been enough to keep them going through the constant training, homework, weekends spent at the office, grueling scenes they have witnessed and can’t disclose to non-medical professionals, and vitriol received from many Fordham students. So much of their willingness to stay is attributed to the family and support system they have made in the process. The genuine excitement shown when the members found out the new Director and Chief of Medical Operations (Natalie Sturgeon and Heather Cahill, respectively) had been gifted business cards was a small, albeit poignant, indicator of their camaraderie. They also bond over events such as their own paramedic themed olympics (struggling to not make a Paralympics pun) and an annual international collegiate EMS conference where they won an award last year, despite being one of the very few student run EMS’s in the country. They hang this in their office next to a letter commending FUEMS for its help during the 9/11 relief.
Their success in forming a family, along with their unofficial motto that “Someone has called for you. They are now in a better spot than they were before,” is what gets them through their darkest moments. With Spring Weekend and its ensuing turmoil on the horizon, you will see them on the outskirts, when they most likely want to be a part of it all. If you feel like voicing your appreciation to any of them, I would unabashedly encourage you to do so then.