Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What does CUEMS mean?

CUEMS is short for “Cornell University Emergency Medical Service.” On campus, you may hear us referred to as “Cornell EMS,” “CUEMS,” or simply “EMS.”

  1. What does CUEMS do?

CUEMS is a New York State Department of Health certified basic life support (BLS) first response agency serving the Ithaca Campus of Cornell University and surrounding University-owned properties and roads. Our “basic life support” designation indicates that we are authorized by the Department of Health to provide emergency care at the level of Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). As a “first response” agency, we do not transport patients as an ambulance would. CUEMS responds to calls for medical emergencies and provides initial evaluation, treatment, and stabilization until the transporting ambulance arrives, and provides patients with information regarding options for further treatment, care, and transportation.

  1. When is CUEMS available to respond to emergencies?

CUEMS members provide around-the-clock EMS service, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week during the academic year. CUEMS is also available throughout orientation, rush week, study period, exam weeks, graduation, and reunion. CUEMS has limited staffing during University breaks, and is usually unable to respond during these times of the year. The Emergency Services Section of Cornell University Environmental Health & Safety provides similar services to the Ithaca Campus when CUEMS is unable to respond.

  1. When should I call 911 to summon CUEMS?

You should dial 911 anytime you feel that a true medical emergency exists that requires immediate care. A true emergency can be defined as anytime that you may feel that someone’s wellbeing is threatened by their current condition. This may include, but is not limited to: fainting or unresponsiveness, chest pain, difficulty breathing, or serious injury. If you are unsure, you should call 911. CUEMS can assist you in determining the best course of action for further evaluation, treatment, and transportation.

  1. What should I do when I call 911?

If you are calling from a cell phone, you will be connected with the Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response. If you are calling from a landline, you will be connected with the Cornell University Police Department. Regardless of which center your call is directed to, the dispatcher will ask you a series of questions regarding the patient’s condition that will aid emergency responders in treating the patient by ensuring that the appropriate resources are sent. It is imperative that you answer these questions to the best of your ability and are prepared to provide the dispatcher with as much information as possible.

Questions are likely to include the following:

  • Name and phone number of caller (in case you are disconnected or further information is needed)
  • Location of incident
  • Approximate age and sex of patient
  • Nature of the emergency
  • Is the patient conscious and breathing?
  • Is the patient speaking coherently?
  • Are there any hazards present?

While collecting the above information, the dispatcher will notify the appropriate emergency services to respond.

  1. What should I do after I call 911?

If the patient’s condition is serious, the dispatcher may give you instructions as to how to care for the patient before EMS arrives. Do not leave or move the patient unless your location endangers you or the patient. Send someone to the best access point to the building to guide EMS to the patient. If you have additional training in CPR or first aid, render assistance to the best of your ability. When EMS arrives, make room for responders, but do not leave so responders can gather additional information from you if needed.

  1. Can I call CUEMS to be evaluated without having to go to the hospital?

Yes, CUEMS is often requested for medical evaluation. The EMTs will evaluate your current condition and provide you with options for further evaluation, treatment, and transportation. The EMTs will assist you in obtaining these resources. To request CUEMS for an evaluation, please call Cornell University Police at (607) 255-1111, and inform the dispatcher that you are requesting an EMS evaluation.

Alternatively, you can contact the on-call provider at Cornell Health 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (607) 255-5155. They can assist you in determining what care is needed, and how, when, and where to receive it.

  1. Can CUEMS take me to the hospital?

CUEMS does not transport patients. Any patient requiring emergent transportation to the hospital is referred to Bangs Ambulance, the contract ambulance provider for most of Tompkins County, including the City of Ithaca. Other options for transportation include taxi or bus services for non-emergent conditions.

  1. Why do so many people respond to medical emergencies on campus?

Tompkins County utilizes a tiered emergency medical response system to ensure that individuals requiring medical assistance receive care as soon as possible. A typical medical call may include a response from CUEMS, Bangs Ambulance, and even the Ithaca Fire Department. Additionally, Cornell University emergency responders from Environmental Health & Safety and Cornell University Police may respond as needed. We train with responders from our neighboring agencies to ensure a positive relationship and strong commitment to a continuum of excellent medical care.

  1. Will I get in trouble if my friend or I have to go to the hospital for drinking too much alcohol and we are underage?

Alcohol poisoning and other drug-related emergencies can be life threatening. If you think your friend may have had too much to drink, is having an adverse reaction to a drug, or if they have sustained a head injury while drinking or using other drugs, it is imperative you get help. Under Cornell’s Good Samaritan Protocol, those who call for help and those who receive help in an alcohol or drug-related emergency are protected from judicial consequences. CUEMS does not oversee this program; please refer to Cornell Health for more information.

  1. Will I have to pay for being evaluated or treated by CUEMS?

All services provided by CUEMS are entirely free of charge. If you are transported to the hospital or are evaluated by Bangs Ambulance, a cost may be incurred from their billing department; however, CUEMS does not bill its patients. Ambulance fees are generally covered by most insurance agencies; contact yours for more information.

  1. Is my medical problem confidential?

CUEMS values your privacy as much as you do. You should know that any call for medical help will be kept in the strictest of confidentiality by our responders and those of any other agency responding to your call. Though CUEMS members may be students, faculty, or staff you could be familiar with, it is important to realize that CUEMS members will maintain a professional relationship when dealing with your medical problems or concerns.

  1. What other services does CUEMS provide?

In addition to emergency response, CUEMS also provides standby EMS coverage at events, CPR and first aid training, and EMS demonstrations. CUEMS does not charge for any of these services. For more information about event standby coverage, please refer to the Event Standby Coverage page or contact the Scheduling Officer. For more information about classes in CPR or first aid, or to schedule an EMS demonstration, please refer to the CPR/First Aid Classes page or contact the Community Education Officer.

  1. How is CUEMS funded?

CUEMS is a byline-funded University organization affiliated with the Department of Environmental Health & Safety. Our primary sources of funding are the Student Assembly and Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, which allocate funds from the Student Activity Fee to organizations such as CUEMS. We also receive a yearly stipend from Environmental Health and Safety to supplement our shared operations. Additionally, CUEMS is funded by donations and gifts from family, friends, students, faculty, staff, and alumni. To learn more about how to donate, please see our Donations page or contact our Finance Officer.

  1. How do I become a member?

All members of CUEMS must be affiliated with the University. Our membership consists of undergraduate students, graduate students, alumni, faculty, and staff. We recruit a class of new members in the first few weeks of each semester. We are always looking for interested, enthusiastic, and dedicated individuals to join our membership. Prospective applicants do not need to hold EMT certification at time of application. For more information on our membership or the application process, please visit the Membership page or contact the Membership Officer.