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History of Cornell EMS

– The Medical Emergency Response Group (MERG) is founded in this year under the order of the Department of Public Safety and
was given the official title of Cornell University Emergency Medical Service.
– CUEMS began serving the Cornell community with a group that consisted of 9 EMTs, 20 advanced
first aiders, for a total 60 total participants.
– June 15, 1979 – CUEMS Director W.E. McDaniel enters into an agreement with Ithaca Fire Chief
Weaver for CUEMS to provide first response emergency medical care to the Cornell campus and surrounding Cornell owned property and roads.
– CUEMS operates in teams of two from its Barton Hall locker room headquarters. The unit operated
with equipment bags carried in personal vehicles during assigned shifts.
– November 1981 – CUEMS creates the first Standard Operating Procedures that are then approved
by the full membership.
– Advisors to the squad include: Scott Withers, RPA (Gannett Health Services); Cortland Bassett,
RPA (Gannett Health Services); and Len Nissenson (Executive Director of Gannett), Pam Kellogg, EMT, PO served as the liaison
to the Department of Public Safety and Mike Quinlan, EMT-P served as a liaison to Bangs Ambulance.
– January 1982 – CUEMS announces extended service hours during the week from 1800h-midnight and on weekends,
a trial-basis 24-hour-service.
– CUEMS began operating out of Gannett Health Center
– CUEMS utilizes the Gannett Utility van as a primary response vehicle
– October 1985 – CUEMS expands its service hours on weekends from 2000h-0200h to 1800h-0200h.
– CUEMS suspended transporting of patients to Tompkins County Hospital.
– February 12, 1986 – CUEMS puts into service a new “van” to utilize as a first response and transporting vehicle.
The van was equipped with a rotating amber light which could was used once at an emergency to alert other incoming emergency vehicles.
– CUEMS establishes revised and extended bylaws that govern its leadership structures and functions
internally and within the university and surrounding community.
– September 1990 – CUEMS and Gannett share transport obligations during different service
hours to ensure non-emergency transports of all patients not necessitating an ambulance-level of care.
– CUEMS secures funding from the Undergraduate Student Assembly through the Student Activity Fee.
CUEMS recieves $1 from every undergraduate student.
– February 3, 1991 – CUEMS extends service hours to begin at 1700h on weekdays.
– Spring 1992 – CUEMS expands service hours to begin at 1500h and last until midnight.
– CUEMS puts into service its new 1991 Chevrolet Suburban to replace the previous van that was shared with Gannett Health Services
– January 1993 – CUEMS purchases its first semi-automatic external defibrillator (AED) to improve its service to the campus community.
– CUEMS expands to trial-based twenty-four-hour service.
– January 31, 1994 – CUEMS establishes enhanced guidelines to meet OSHA regulations for bloodborne pathogens and potential exposures.
– May 1994 – CUEMS establishes a scholarship to be included in its budget of up to $200 for members taking EMT-D courses.
– August 25, 1994 – CUEMS establishes a concrete “Airborne Exposure Control Plan” and “Bloodborne
Exposure Control Plan” to protect members from potential infection while operating on calls.
– December 1, 1994 – CUEMS begins to carry its own insurance with VFIS that includes coverage for office contents, equipment,
management liability and comprehensive and collision vehicle liability, medical malpractice, management liability, and more.
– CUEMS establishes “Officer Performance Standards” to outline what it expects of leaders of the
squad to ensure proper functioning.
– CUEMS attains status as a New York State EMS Agency (#5471) at the “EMT-D” level.
– August 1995 – CUEMS attains permission for a trial period to use red lights and sirens for emergency response to calls of a potentially critical nature.
– Fall 2005 – CUEMS evaluates its use of red lights and sirens response with no significant issues
in its 55 uses that semester. CUEMS recorded an average response time with this new method of just under four minutes. CUEMS
is athorized to use red lights and siren on a permanent basis.
– CUEMS service hours in 1995 include 1500h-0700h each day during the academic year.
– A formalized QA/QI program was developed to evaluate patient care, documentation, and ways to
improve our service to the community.
– September 13, 1998 – CUEMS establishes “contracts” allowing members with other commitments to
make up for missed membership requirements throughout the semester.
– Terry Freund comes on board as the CUEMS “Supervisor,” a title later adapted to the role as our
faculty/staff advisor.
– CUEMS moves to 201 Palm Road as a thought “temporary location” until more permanent housing could be located.
– May 1999 – In conjunction with Phil Rach, Director of Safety Services, CUEMS establishes better
practice protocols when dealing with athletic trainers and assisting with NCAA sports event coverage.
– CUEMS begins using the online shiftboard for shift signup and trading.
– The CQI process was increased to ensure that all PCRs (and thus all patient care and documentation)
were reviewed by members of the CQI committee.
– Spring 2003 – CUEMS receives the “Best Collegiate EMS Agency Website” award from the National
Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation (NCEMSF).
– July 2003 – CUEMS changes from its old identifier as “981” to “2481” to comply with new Emergency
Services Group numbering under Environmental Health and Safety.
– Spring 2004 – CUEMS puts into service its new primary response vehicle, a 2004 Chevrolet Suburban outfitted with cabinetry, emergency
lighting, and graphics designs by Autocrafting Emergency Vehicles in Rochester, NY.
– CUEMS doubles its budget for Community Education in this year allowing CUEMS to teach more community
CPR and First Aid classes to the Cornell community.
– CUEMS refines its Spinal Immobilization protocols to include a more well defined set of mechanisms,
signs, and symptoms for this procedure. The model seemed to be well ahead of its time, fitting snugly into the boundaries
and stipulations of the 2008 New York State Spinal Immobilization Protocol changes.
– CUEMS establishes a five-class New Member Training program to train all new members on the basics
we expect of our attendants (whether already certified as an EMT or not), including basic EMS care, understanding of the EMS
system, Incident Command Systems (ICS) training, Emergency Vehicle Operator (EVOC) training, and scenario-based practical training.
The class is now utilized and adapted by various other agencies in the National Collegiate EMS Foundation.
– CUEMS establishes updated and concrete Squad Mobilization and Mass Casualty Incident protocols
to fine tune response to major emergencies on the Cornell Ithaca campus. Unfortunately proven necessary by the events in April
2007 on the Virginia Tech campus, CUEMS was ahead of its time in this type of preparation.
– Spring 2006 – CUEMS updates its Mission Statement to reflect the current work, accomplishments,
and goals of the organization.
– January, 2007 – CUEMS beings permanent twenty-four hour service hours to the community.
– February 2, 2007 – CUEMS is noted in the Cornell Daily Sun as one of the 28 Things Cornell Students
Should NOT Do: “25. Get so wasted that your friends call CUEMS to come and cart your drunk [self] away…”
– Fall 2007 – CUEMS received final approval from university officials to have access keys and a
swipe-card to gain access to many buildings on campus.
– Fall 2007 – CUEMS replaces its white, button-down shirts with navy and gray polos. The gray polo
shirts are introduced to identifying crew chiefs on scene.
– Fall 2007 – A new interview system based on a more comprehensive ranking system is used to enhance
our membership selection process.
– September 1, 2007 – CUEMS places in service its Mass Casualty Incident Unit prepared to triage, treat, and
package up to and more than one hundred patients.
– Dr. Edward Koppel, a staff physician at Gannett Health Services, and a Critical Care EMT, takes
over as our medical director after a dedicated, long run by Dr. Janet Corsen-Rikert, Cornell’s Director of Health Services at
Gannett—who still holds an active involvement and interest in the organization.
– Dan Maas, Cornell’s Director of Emergency and Event Planning, takes over as CUEMS Advisor after a long and
dedicated service by Terry Freund.
– CUEMS fine-tuned its Critical Incident Stress Debriefing protocols to ensure the mental health
of our staff following many issues that may arise when acting as an EMS professional.
– CUEMS became ICS/NIMS-compliant following national standards from FEMA and the Department of
Homeland Security.
– CUEMS further expands its Community Education program to encompass more than simply CPR and First
Aid classes. New programs included educating students, faculty, staff, and anyone in the Cornell community about the basics
of calling 911, how to help before “help” arrives, alcohol emergencies, and recognizing signs of medical emergencies.
– April 20, 2008 – CUEMS assists in the search for the missing Ithaca College student Willie Jacobson
as a part of the Tompkins Search and Rescue Team
– July 1, 2008 – CUEMS becomes a part of the Tompkins Search and Rescue Team with permanent members
in the newly re-formed organization.
– Summer 2008 – The first alumni newsletter was published and distributed. The newsletter was met
with notable enthusiasm from our alumni and successfully produced new bonds with EMS graduates.
– CUEMS solidifies plans to be a part of the new Gannett Health Services building to be completed
in the Spring of 2012.
– CUEMS establishes new committees, including a Website Committee, Special Events Committee, Membership
Recruitment Committee, Membership Events Committee, Fundraising Committee, and Alumni Relations Committee, to help govern
the organization and increase efficiency with leadership and development.
– August 2008 – CUEMS redesigns its promotional magnets that are distributed around campus and
to all incoming freshmen..
– September 2008 – CUEMS is recognized as a University Organization, maintaining
its student leadership, but becoming officially recognized by the University as an organization of students whose goals reflect
the mission of the University.


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