College students across the country often assist with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) by serving as volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics. When COVID-19 hit, Southern Madison County Ambulance Corp’s (SOMAC) student volunteers left campus, which abruptly left the organization in crisis mode.
SOMAC, an organization that provides emergency medical services to Madison County residents, relies heavily on 42 licensed student volunteers from neighboring Colgate University. The volunteers play an integral part in making sure the organization’s operations are running smoothly as they assist the staff throughout the academic year from August to May.
“More than half of our team is made up of students so when they left campus there were dozens of positions needing to be filled,” said Kyle Sylvester, director of operations at SOMAC. “It was difficult to recruit volunteers as quickly as we needed, so in order to keep our services running we had to offer additional paid positions that were not in our budget.”
The organization prepared a response program for EMS support to fill the gap in staffing. Funding was limited, however, for supplies such as extra Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), food for additional paid staff on shifts and gas for additional transports to the Syracuse area.
The Central New York Community Foundation provided SOMAC with a grant from its Madison County Rural Poverty Fund to assist with these additional costs. Supplies such as germicidal UVC air filters for the station and ambulances, non-contact forehead thermometers as well as PPE and P100 respirators were purchased and used to support patients and the staff of SOMAC. The funding helped keep current staff safe and protected in a time when retaining staff members was crucial to the organization.
“The funds allowed us to provide increased protections to not only our crews but also our patients and the general public that we normally would not have budgeted for,” said Sylvester. “We depend on additional funds to provide the best patient care to our community while being able to increase protections for all we come in contact with.”
SOMAC is responsible for providing EMS to the Village and Town of Hamilton, Village of Earlville, Town of Lebanon, parts of Eaton, Madison and Brookfield. During the pandemic, it has also been assisting with necessary services in Madison, Eaton, Sherburne and Georgetown, as well as occasional other municipalities.
SOMAC continues to provide care for the greater Hamilton area and remains hopeful for the safe return of students to the Colgate University campus.