SOMAC Reaches out to Students through Brown Bag

Last Thursday, February 13, Southern Madison County (SOMAC) Volunteer Ambulance Corps held a Brown Bag lunch at the Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE) to educate students about the history of SOMAC and what its student volunteers do. Seniors Sam Flood and Gabrielle Guetta, who are student coordinators for SOMAC, led the presentation.

Flood and Guetta began their presentation by talking about the history of SOMAC and its foundation in 1986. While the members of SOMAC work to help residents of Hamilton by driving them to the hospital in emergencies, they also serve other surrounding towns in Madison County, including Earlville and Eaton. SOMAC has two vehicles and, depending on the symptoms that a patient is showing, the members can bring him or her to one of several different local hospitals, such as those in Hamilton, Syracuse, Oneida or another nearby facility.

SOMAC is comprised of both students who volunteer and adults who are paid for their services. Students who pass the tests and training sessions that are required to become EMT-Bs typically work two to four days a week, taking turns covering the weekend shifts. While on call, volunteers are expected to be within five minutes of the SOMAC headquarters in case of an emergency. Despite this requirement, student coordinators say that SOMAC is sympathetic to the fact that they are students with busy lives.

“The [adult] members of SOMAC understand that we’re students first, so they accommodate that,” Guetta said. In addition to being a student coordinator, Guetta is an EMT-B for SOMAC.

As members of SOMAC, the volunteers have several responsibilities. This includes writing down everything that is done to a patient who they are helping in an ambulance.

“We have to document every single thing we do,” Guetta said. “We have to make sure that we do everything we can to complete a full report.”

SOMAC takes 911 calls for both medical and trauma emergencies, such as heart attacks, allergic reactions, car accidents and more. Flood and Guetta discussed some of their experiences that they have had on the job, particularly one in which they had to help rescue someone from an accident involving a crashed tar truck.

Several members of SOMAC attended the brown bag, including first-year student

Erin DiGuglielmo.

“I decided to join SOMAC because I wanted to get involved in the Colgate community as well as the surrounding area,” DiGuglielmo said.

SOMAC takes student applications every fall and typically accepts five to 10 students every year.

“It’s a great hands-on experience if you’re a pre-med student, or just interested in helping out,” Guetta said.

While some student volunteers may be interested in pursuing a career in the medical field, it is not a requirement for the program.

“I had no plans in being a doctor, but I still wanted to be an EMT,” Flood said.  In addition to being a student coordinator for SOMAC, Flood is a paramedic and has been a part of the program since he was a first-year. Flood and Guetta concluded their presentation by presenting information on proper protocol for calling in an emergency, emphasizing that the most important thing is to remain calm and give as much information as possible. In this way, the members of SOMAC can get help to a person in need as quickly as possible.