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College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

University of Dayton student emergency medical squad receives national award for community engagement

By Dave Larsen

When a call for medical responders went out during August 2019’s star-studded “Gem City Shine” benefit concert, which brought 20,000 people to Dayton’s Oregon District, three University of Dayton undergraduate student emergency medical technicians responded.

“We were assigned to one of the first aid tents,” said Chad Jaenke, a senior biology major from Cleveland and 2019-20 chief of University of Dayton Emergency Medical Services. “We had people walking up to us with heat exhaustion and things like cuts. I thought our services were helpful to them.”

Assisting during the event — which raised funds and spirits in the wake of last year’s mass shooting in the Oregon District — was just one of many acts of campus and community service that earned UD EMS the 2020 Collegiate EMS Community Engagement Program of the Year award. Jaenke and the organization’s other 10 student officers received the honor March 1 at the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation’s 27th annual conference in Boston. UD EMS was the first recipient of this new award.

“It’s in our mission statement that we proudly serve the UD campus and surrounding community,” Jaenke said. “This award is just evidence of those efforts to help the wellness and health of the community. We are here to volunteer and to serve, and we’re proud to be able to represent UD and to be able to serve the community.”

Founded in 1992 and formerly known as the UD Rescue Squad, UD EMS is a student-run volunteer organization that provides free, 24-hour pre-hospital care and ambulance transportation for medical and trauma emergencies on campus during the academic year. Members undergo rigorous classroom and practical training to obtain both national and local emergency medical technician (EMT) certification. After becoming an EMT, each member is required to work on duty at least 24 hours each month.

This year, UD EMS has 63 undergraduate student volunteers. Many are premedicine or biology majors, but the crew also includes students majoring in criminal justice studies and finance, among other academic disciplines.

Currently, UD EMS is not in service because of the suspension of in-person classes due to health and public safety requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization has received numerous national honors, including Collegiate EMS Organization of the Year in 2017, 2003 and 1999. It also is a five-time winner of the Outstanding Collegiate EMS Week award, most recently in 2019.

The Collegiate EMS Community Engagement Program of the Year award recognized the group’s campus engagement and Dayton community outreach initiatives, said Morgan Miller, a senior health sciences major from Cincinnati and UD EMS 2019-20 advancement officer. These efforts included an updated website and promotional materials, establishing an off-shift campus service requirement, and staging student EMTs at campus and community events.

“Our community outreach campaign for the 2019-2020 school year aimed directly towards promoting awareness and mitigating barriers to students receiving emergency medical care on-campus by raising awareness of UD EMS’ services,” Miller said. “Specifically, partnering with other campus organizations, such as the two blood drives that UD EMS co-sponsored with a number of other organizations this past year, will further strengthen our connection to the community.”

In addition to the Gem City Shine, UD EMS staged student volunteers at community events such as the Winter Guard International 2019 Color Guard World Championships, which brought 350 international teams and 15,000 spectators to University of Dayton Arena over two weekends in April 2019.

On campus, UD EMS provided students with information about its role in mental health and psychiatric emergencies during October’s Mental Health Resource Fair. In January, the entire organization met with representatives from the Artemis Center, Dayton’s domestic violence resource agency, to discuss how UD EMS can help build the bridge between potential sexual assault patients and their services.

“The University of Dayton's EMS program is a national leader in collegiate pre-hospital care,” said Police Capt. Joseph Cairo, who serves as the organization’s adviser. “This is illustrated by the steady stream of awards that we win, and the number of other colleges that reach out to us and ask us how we do what we do.”

UD EMS also provides students with important service opportunities and volunteer experience for their professional school applications. Jaenke has been admitted to Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. Miller will enter the University of Toledo physician assistant program this fall.

“When we speak about the University's mission of community, servant leadership and working for the common good, these students personify that every day,” Cairo said. “These students are committed to making this community — and the world — a better place.”

For more information, visit the UD EMS website.

Shown above: University of Dayton EMS Chief Chad Jaenke, Biology '20 (second from left), holds the award that was presented to him and his crew by the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation in March 2020.

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