Elizabeth Drebin: Training SOMAC’s Recruits

Junior Elizabeth Drebin is a training coordinator for the Southern Madison County Ambulance Corps (SOMAC) here in Hamilton. The ambulance corps is a non-profit agency that primarily serves the towns of Hamilton and Hubbardsville, but occasionally to emergencies and patient transport calls which can take them as far away as Utica or Syracuse. There is always a team of at least one EMT and one Paramedic that are on call 24/7, who respond alongside the student volunteers. As one of the training coordinators, Drebin and the three other coordinators are responsible for training 33 student volunteers. This training consists of running sessions which students can come to in person or via Zoom. 

Each Monday, the training coordinators group meets to review goals for that week’s training and also go over previous concerns and calls that the station received. The coordinators cleverly work these concerns into the curriculum for the students to go over during training. These consist of mock scenarios, which help students practice various emergency situations and explore how to best prepare for emergency calls. At the end of the week, Drebin runs her own session on Friday afternoons, and enjoys each interaction with the trainees.

I really loved engaging with the students, especially our new student observers and seeing how they approached complicated scenes.” 

This experience has taught her teaching skills and ways to interact with the community. 

In addition to her training coordinator role, Drebin spends a few scheduled hours a week at the station for her own shift as a leader. This entails driving or leading patient transfers to other hospitals and covering the station when there are 911 calls or a shortage in staff. 

This is four hours less than most EMT’s weekly requirements, and being on one shift a week is earned through being at the highest level BLS-EMT at SOMAC and achieving 1.5 times the expected hours during the semester prior.”

Drebin applied to SOMAC in the summer of 2018 before she knew that Colgate offered a student program. In her childhood, she was very engaged with her community and participated in a lot of community service opportunities. When she came to Colgate, she wanted to find an organization that would enable her to continue her passion for helping others. 

“Service is one of the most powerful and enjoyable ways to be engaged with a community because by seeing the harsher sides of reality you also get to see the strength of the people you are working with.” SOMAC requires a lot of Drebin’s time outside of the classroom, as she is called to work multiple times a week. Some of her interests outside of the program include running, reading and knitting.

“[Long distance running is] the best stress reliever after tough calls or busy and intense school weeks.” 

She was also a lead link this year, helping coordinate the first-year and transfer orientation program and advising link staff to support new students, which she plans on continuing her involvement with next school year. Academically, Drebin is a chemistry concentrator with a minor in computer science. She is a lab teaching assistant for the chemistry department which has also enhanced her leadership and teaching skills.

In the future, Drebin is unsure about how she will use her SOMAC experiences in her life. When she first came to Colgate, she considered attending medical school. Being a training coordinator has not steered her away from this plan, but it has opened her eyes to new professional tracks. 

“I loved learning how to keep people engaged and excited about being an EMT through training and would love to continue developing these teaching skills,” she said. 

The program has efficiently opened new doors for Drebin, and has encouraged her to grow as an individual and learn more about the medical field.