In 1974, Geneseo First Response was established to help ensure campus safety. Four decades later, that mission persists.
Known for being very selective, it only picks seven to eight people out of 40 to 50 applicants. It looks for individuals with desire, passion and love — those who go above and beyond.
There are 50 to 60 people on the team today. When they first join, they have six training sessions to learn first aid, what’s in a squad car, standard operating procedures, splinting, bleeding control and CPR.
In order to join the Geneseo First Response, every member has to train to become an Emergency Medical Technician within two semesters. The 12-week training includes learning how to read vital signs and when to administer certain drugs.
EMTs who become crew chiefs make decisions about each patient. They are required to drive a squad car with two volunteer attendants.
When the crew is on standby with their pagers, they do homework, relax, sleep, go to class and carry on with normal student responsibilities. However, no matter where they are or what they are doing when they get a call, they must leave immediately.
“I T.A. non-majors geology lab at 9:30 a.m.,” junior Crew Chief Zachary Wistort said. “You need to plan your schedule out well.”
ON THE SCENE
The team, the fire department, and University Police all arrive within minutes. On average, fewer than two calls are received per week. On weekends, an average of about four or five calls are received (80 percent are for intoxication).
When the squad receives a call, its crew is told the age, gender, situation and priority number. The priority number indicates the severity of the situation: three to four is not life threatening. Examples include flu like symptoms, a broken arm or controlled bleeding.
A priority number of one to two means a life-threatening situation, which requires the team to use lights and sirens. Examples include an airway issue, an asthma attack, an allergic reaction or uncontrolled bleeding. The majority of the time, priority one calls are for people who are unconscious due to intoxication because they have no gag reflex.
The crew has faced many different situations. A few years ago, a crew member saved a student by using an automatic external defibrillator, a portable device that sends an electric shock to restore the heart’s normal rhythm
“Hands through windows, cracked skulls, I’ve seen it all,” said Michael Siu, a Geneseo junior.
After every call, the crew charts each patient’s information. The paperwork takes about an hour per call.
“We are focused on the job, then we document, and we are thinking constantly for six to seven hours straight,” Sui said. “We get into a rhythm.”
Headquarters is located in the basement of Wyoming Hall, on the north side of campus. Its room has medical supplies, a squad room with a white wall filled with names of members recent and past, and a shift-changing room. In the squad room, the group has a projector and beds for team members to spend the night if necessary. In the group’s shift-changing room, a wall is covered with thank-you cards and pictures of past team members.
Pride is the first word that comes to mind when your eyes meet each member’s smiling face as they huddle together in almost every photo. The cards covering the walls are filled with the voices of those who appreciate the team’s hard work and dedication throughout the years.
Siu never saw himself doing anything in the medical field. He says it’s important to know that even if you aren’t a biology major or going to medical school, the desire to help those around you is reason enough to pursue a position.
“If someone told me this job was 100 hours a week, that would’ve never turned me off,” he said. “Geneseo First Response is a lovely group of people, doing a great job at Geneseo and it’s a life-changing experience. I like doing humanitarian work, I like helping people and GFR seemed like a natural fit.”