Fire and Rescue experience high call volume

As training begins, the rescue squads break into groups for mock trials on Sunday, Feb. 5. They practice real world, life saving situations. PHOTO BY ALEX WEISS

Hazel Bozikowski | Staff Writer |

St. Michaels Fire and Rescue responded to 3,804 total incidents in 2022, a number significantly higher than previous years. The most prominent reason being an increase in people seeking care statewide, said Rescue Chief John Keating, ’17.

“It’s unique, it’s one of the most unique EMS programs in the country,” Keating said.”Our students are able to get homework done, have a social life, go to class, and still do remarkable things.” Rescue members stay at the station so they can respond as quickly as possible.

Fire and Rescue primarily responds to Winooski, Campus, College Parkway (Route 15 area, Exit 15-16 on Interstate 89) and then are secondary to Colchester, Essex, and Exits 16-17 on I-89. These locations, along with the rest of the state have seen an increase in cases due to, “More people seeking care than ever before and utilizing the EMS system to get care and have care provide,” Keating said. The number of EMS calls statewide increased by 12% from 2021 to 2022 and there are no new ambulance services to meet the need, so everyone is in demand.”
Kyle Schedin, ’23 is the current Crew Chief at Fire and Rescue. The position involves training future crew chiefs, driving the ambulance, leading the crew and making primary decisions during cases. “As a crew chief it’s good to talk to your crew and figure out the situation, helps you calm down but helps them also calm down, it’s a nice moment to take a breath and not freak out before you arrive at the scene,” Schedin said.

After the crew responds to the scene, “Crew chiefs will debrief or ‘break down’ calls afterward with their crews to go over what went well and what didn’t go well and it’s a good time to mentally check in with your crew as well. It’s also a great time to learn how we can perform better on our next call.” Schedin said.

Emilie Webster, ’23, is a Nationally Registered Advanced EMT and volunteers for the Rescue department of Fire and Rescue at St. Michael’s College. Webster works mainly in an ambulance alongside four other team members; the driver, the crew chief, and two other EMT’s.

Everyone has a specific responsibility for patient care, “Including ensuring our scene is safe and that we are safe to provide care, asking questions about patient history, helping to move patients with various equipments, administering medications when warranted, using tools to help make differential diagnoses before we arrive at the hospital, ect,” Webster said.

When rescue receives a call the crew stops what they’re doing to listen to the dispatch on the intercom. “We are typically told the location, a description of the person who may need help, and their chief complaint (i.e., potential stroke),” Webster said. From there, all four crew members get in the ambulance and rush to the scene. Rescue occasionally works alongside police departments to ensure safety for the scene, crew, and patient. Once safety is confirmed the team is allowed to provide treatment.

“Some people that are conscious, alert and oriented may choose to not go to the hospital, but if there is consent of any kind, we will transport them and perform a workup on scene on the way to the hospital,” Webster said. Every call is different but Keating said common complaints consist of cardiac related illness, respiratory issues, and car or motor vehicle incidents especially with the weather conditions..

Being a part of Fire and Rescue consists of students voluntarily working multiple hours on end to serve the community. “People are calling 911 on their worst days and being able to show up for them and help them the best we can is one of the most rewarding things our students can do, it keeps them and me going,” Keating said.

Webster agreed. “It is very rewarding helping people in our community. Although we are not always met with kindness by our patients, I always hope that we make a small enough difference in their lives that leads to positive changes in their health,” Webster said..

Students join Fire and Rescue for many reasons. “Being a part of Fire and Rescue is a very rewarding experience…it’s exciting because as a crew chief, you have a few responsibilities to juggle but our members go through plenty of training, so I know I can trust them to function without me there.