Five Quad student volunteers practice transport during a training session last week. (Photo by Naomi McPeters)
ALBANY, NY (Oct. 24, 2016) – Jonathan Reyes recalls his second call as a Five Quad ambulance attendant “the craziest call I think I’ve ever been on.” Reyes, now 27, said the call was to assist someone who had walked through a pane of glass while under the influence of drugs. When Five Quad arrived, Reyes said, the scene was “straight out of a horror film,” with the patient covered in dried blood.
While not every call to the Five Quad Volunteer Ambulance Service is as intense as Reyes’s second one, its student volunteers remain passionate and engaged with the work that they do.
Five Quad is a New York state certified ambulance agency and emergency medical service provider, with a staff of volunteers that includes UAlbany students and alumni. In a given semester, Five Quad has 50-90 active members.
“Five Quad has operational authority in a 5-mile radius, with the UAlbany Uptown Campus being in the center,” said Five Quad Chief Noah Pilnick, a senior. “If a student calls the University Police Department or uses one of the red phones, we are automatically requested. If a student calls 911, it will go through the City of Albany PSAP [Public Safety Answering Points] and then be directed to UPD, which will also begin a response from the Albany Fire Department.”
Students looking to join Five Quad can apply online or attend general interest meetings, which are held early in a semester. After a round of interviews, 15-20 applicants are chosen and begin the semester-long training process. Once training is complete, members can serve as technicians, attendants, drivers and crew chiefs. All of Five Quads members are certified to provide Basic Life Support, which includes advanced first aid, “Airway, Breathing and Circulation” vital sign checks, and administration of drugs such as aspirin and epinephrine.
The student volunteers at Five Quad come from different backgrounds and have a variety of different goals for the future. Reyes, who has been a member for six semesters, is pursuing a double major in Criminal Justice and Psychology, and wants to go into law enforcement when he graduates. The similarities between law enforcement and Five Quad as first-response services are what initially inspired him to join.
“I also just generally like helping people,” said Reyes.
Carly Fielding, 20, is a junior majoring in Public Policy and Administration. She is the supply officer for Five Quad, in charge of “making all the orders, stocking everything, filling up the oxygen tanks,” she said. Fielding initially wanted to become a doctor, which inspired her to join Five Quad.
“I thought if I wanted to go into trauma [care] then this would be a cool way of kinda seeing what the patient goes through before they arrive into the care of like a trauma surgeon, or something like that,” she said.
As she took more classes, Fielding realized that the medical field was not something that she wants to pursue, so she switched to her major and is planning on going to law school after completing her undergraduate degree at UAlbany. Still, she considers the emergency medical work of Five Quad to be a “passion” and continues to work as a volunteer, currently training to become both a crew chief and a driver.
“I just like being there for people when they feel like they need [help],” Fielding said. “Knowing that I have the capability to do whatever I need to do to help them.”
Steve Ford, 22, is a senior majoring in criminal justice. Originally from Long Island, Ford had worked as volunteer at a fire department’s ambulance agency back home, and when he transferred to UAlbany from Suffolk County Community College, he eagerly applied to join Five Quad.
“It’s kind of like family,” said Ford. “Back at home my firehouse is my family… It’s something I want to continue with.”
Ford says that the best moments at Five Quad for him are when he is able to teach someone using the knowledge that he has gained from working with Five Quad and other ambulance agencies, whether they be members-in-training, collaborators from different first response agencies, or even the people they are providing care for.
“The best part is like, when it clicks, and someone says ‘Hey why did you do this, why did you do that?’” said Ford. “When they understand … it’s pretty cool.”
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