Emergency medical services have been provided to The College of New Jersey by student volunteers through our agency since 1998. Due to the expansion of the college and local area, the need for rapid and readily available medical services developed. Students who wanted to bring skills which they learned on home first aid squads and others who wished to train and learn these skills, answered the call. This willingness and devotion of students interested in aiding the campus community has allowed for our organization to evolve into what it is today.
Prior to creation of our agency, attempts were made by various students and faculty who wished to bring this essential service to the campus. One of the most notable examples of this attempt was by Dr. William Birnes, Professor of English and member of Allentown First Aid Squad. In 1975 Dr. Birnes called for converting a van into a medical vehicle that could be operated by students trained in Red Cross First Aid. Although Dr. Birnes’ proposal did not come to fruition, the demand for campus based services and the ability of students to organize into a squad would come about in the late 1990’s. An administrator of the college suffered a heart attack while working leading to the need for trained medical responders on campus. A group of students had formed a club called Lions’ EMS and wanted to bring volunteer student emergency services to TCNJ. With the Lions’ EMS Club organized with dedicated students, the College provided funding for the club to begin operating as an EMS service. On February 26, 1998 the Board of Trustees of the College passed a resolution allowing the Lions’ EMS club to now act as a quick response unit and supplement the care provided by local EMS agencies.
In the fall semester of 1998, the first crews of Lions’ EMS called into service and responded to emergencies on campus. Although early operations of the squad differ from today, many of the functions of it are similar. Members assembled into crews that responded to calls when requested. They would respond from their location on campus such as the library or their dorm and then proceed to scenes. To provide care to patients, members carried large backpacks filled with medical supplies normally carried on ambulances. Although Lions’ EMS lacked the resources of a normal EMS agency, the organization managed to leave an impact on those in need. Response times for receiving aid greatly diminished as responders were now within reach on campus. College events now had medical personnel who could standby in case of emergencies. Lastly, Lions’ EMS provided education to the community on various topics pertaining to health and wellness. Over these years, Lions’ EMS continued to grow and advance to better serve the campus. In the spring of 2008, Lions’ EMS obtain an unused residential faculty apartment in Decker Hall to act as a response room. This resource allowed the squad to store equipment and respond to calls as a unified crew rather than individually. Due to renovations in Decker Hall, the response room had to be vacated and was replaced with a closet in Eickhoff Hall and later an empty dorm in New Residence Hall. With the renovations completed, Lions’ EMS was able to return to Decker where it continues to act as a base.
In the spring of 2010, Lions’ EMS almost faced disbandment as it struggled to meet requirements to effectively grow. The organization sought funding directly from the college rather than TCNJ’s Student Finance Board. This shift in funding required that the organization receive oversight from a supervisor rather than an advisor. Holly Heller, Student Health Services Nurse, acted as the advisor to Lions’ EMS for many years. Heller though did not have an EMS background and certification as an EMT, leading her to resign from the position since she could not act as the supervisor. Fortunately a replace for Heller was found as Scott Sferra of Student Accounts, stepped in to take the position. Sferra had acted as a co-advisor with Heller and was a local EMT and EMS educator. The squad also soon received further oversight from TCNJ Campus Police as the transition was made to make Lions’ EMS a subdivision of the Police Department. A combination of the additional funding, Supervisor Sferra, Campus Police oversight, and the continued devotion of members allowed for tremendous growth of the squad. Professional uniforms were purchased in the Spring 2012 Semester, replacing t-shirts and allowing members to distinguish themselves as responders at scenes. Also during the semester, the squad purchased a GEM Car to act as a response vehicle. The response vehicle went into service for the first time in the Fall 2012 semester which not only provided members transportation but also increased response times to calls not within close proximity of Decker Hall.
Today the squad continues to grow from the work and devotion of its past members and support from the College. In this growing the squad officially changed its name for the Fall 2015 Semester. Lions’ EMS now became The College of New Jersey Emergency Medical Services in order to promote a more professional image of our responders. Although we have new and improved equipment, we continue to do what the first responding members did in the fall of 1998 by providing care to all of those in need on the campus. We are proud to be making a positive impact on the campus community and wish to continue to do so in the years to come.