by Ari Bernstein ’15
During my first few weeks on campus as a freshman in the fall semester of 2012, I was both amazed and overwhelmed by the abundance of extra-curricular opportunities that Cornell provides its students. I attended Club Fest, in hopes of discovering a few clubs that resonated with my interests, yet walked away with more than twenty. As a pre-med student interested in the scientific world as well as interpersonal connections, patient care, and moral reasoning, I was particularly interested in activities that would allow me to interact with people in their times of need and contribute to the welfare of Cornell’s student and faculty population. Likewise, I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone, gain valuable leadership experience, and obtain a skillset that would be useful in all facets of life. Something clicked for me when I attended that first information session for Cornell University Emergency Medical Service (CUEMS) as a new student on a big campus in the middle of an RPCC auditorium.
CUEMS is a completely student-run, Basic Life Support emergency response agency consisting of certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). Its members respond to 9-1-1 medical and traumatic emergency calls on the Cornell campus, operating 24/7 throughout the academic year and part time over the summer months. Additionally, the squad contains many American Heart Association certified CPR instructors, and offers countless CPR, first-aid, and alcohol awareness courses all across campus. I learned all about the squad in that information session, and decided to apply despite having absolutely no emergency medical experience, or knowledge of that particular world. This turned out to be one of the best decision that I would make as an undergraduate.
During first semester, I acquired a substantial amount of clinical and interpersonal skills. I needed to be able to work efficiently with a team of student EMTs to maximize the quality of patient care while at the same time communicating openly and appropriately. I had to understand and utilize different styles of body posture, voice tone and volume, and eye contact to establish short-term relationships built on trust and professionalism. I was able to harness a sense of confidence in my clinical and operational skills through hours of practice and simulation.
The most incredible thing that our squad offers its members, aside from the clinical role that we serve on campus, is a strong opportunity for mentorship. The upperclassmen on CUEMS give up tremendous amounts of time to demonstrate and share their knowledge and skills with the new and incoming members. Within our squad, there is a universal understanding that teamwork is most effective when all members of a team are on the same page and possess confidence in their abilities, and through the mentorship roles, these upperclassmen ensure that all members of each team are extremely well-prepared to adapt to any given emergency situation. The new members benefit by learning the importance of a good and strong mentor, one who helps you reach your ultimate potential. I am fortunate to spend a lot of time with such an intellectually stimulating, responsible, and caring group of students and look forward to all that I will learn from them in my final year on campus as a senior.
From spending time on shift during the Slope Day concert and festivities to serving as a “New Member Buddy” (The name we give to current squad members who mentor assigned new members) helping newer members master their skills, I have learned the importance of giving back to the Cornell community and the real truth in the phrase, “you will only get out of it what you put into it.” While I have put in lots of time into CUEMS, I am excited and fueled by my desire to give and learn more.