BC EMS members Brian Coyne ’23, Lucas Flanagan ’23, and Gracie Meijer ’23. (Lee Pellegrini)
Seven days a week, a squad of trained and committed Boston College student volunteers—operating on foot crews and via a non-transporting ambulance—are available on the Heights to provide quick-response emergency medical care to community members and visitors.
“Chances are if you’ve been to any BC sports games this year, you’ve seen one of our crews there,” according to Boston College EMS (Emergency Medical Services) President Brian Coyne ’23, a Morrissey College student who joined the program as a freshman and emphasizes the strong bonds formed among members through hundreds of hours spent together on shifts. “BC EMS has a responsibility to keep the campus safe, and I am proud of how we step up to answer that call.”
With a typical volume of 300-400 calls during the academic year, the 54 BC EMS members donate thousands of hours annually—giving up Friday nights, football game days, Marathon Mondays, and much more. Its EMTs are trained and certified at the national and state levels, and each semester the group hosts on-campus training by top Boston-area paramedics.
On November 4, when the BC Eagles take on Duke University in football, members of BC EMS—founded in 1997—will be at the game for another important reason: to be recognized on the Alumni Stadium field by BC Athletics for a quarter-century of service to the University.
“Over the last 25 years, countless volunteer hours have been completed by members who have chosen to give of themselves,” said Office of Student Involvement Associate Director of Student Programming Matthew Razek, who serves as BC EMS liaison in the Division of Student Affairs.
“To observe the community, leadership, and legacy of the organization is inspiring; it truly is a student-run and operated. The members can be seen at campus concerts, athletic events, and each night as they respond to those in need with genuine care and interest in providing those individuals comfort and assistance,” he added.
“We respond when our community members need us the most,” Coyne explained. “It could be something simple: perhaps you cut your finger while cooking, or sprained your ankle playing an intramural. Perhaps it’s something more serious—an allergic reaction, or a diabetic emergency. Whatever the call, there are students trained and able to respond. Being peers and classmates, our EMTs connect with our patients in a way that no other provider or first responder can, allowing for improved trust.”
The group is fortunate, Coyne said, to work alongside the Boston College Police Department, “to supplement the responding officers. Our EMTs have the capabilities to treat a variety of calls; BCPD makes sure we can do so safely.”
BCPD Deputy Chief of Police Kevin Buckley serves on the BC EMS advisory board, along with Razek, Director of University Health Services and Primary Care Sports Medicine Dr. Douglas Comeau, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Corey Kelly, and Director of Emergency Management John Tommaney, who conducts training exercises with the group. The advisory board meets monthly with students on the EMS executive board.
Call volume fluctuates on a weekly basis, according to Coyne, and the members’ time commitment varies based on rank. “Our most senior members work 12 hours a week whereas newer members work about two shifts a month.” Its ambulance can respond within minutes and is in service 46 hours a week, totaling 138 weekly man-hours on shift, supplemented by special event coverage.
We respond when our community members need us the most...Whatever the call, there are students trained and able to respond. Being peers and classmates, our EMTs connect with our patients in a way that no other provider or first responder can, allowing for improved trust.
The group’s genesis followed the passing of then-freshman Kevin Eidt, who died of a cardiac arrest during an intramural basketball game. His friend Mark Ritchie ’00, an EMT, saw an opportunity to bring rapid defibrillation and resuscitation capabilities to campus, and that fall founded BC EMS.
“I am very grateful that the Eidt Family has continued to be involved in our organization; the support they provide is unparalleled,” Coyne said. “We keep Kevin at the heart of everything we do. For our anniversary we updated our [uniform] patches to include his initials and graduation year. Continuing his legacy and ensuring that every student has access to life-saving emergency medical care are two of the top priorities of our organization.”
Coyne is pleased with its evolution over the past quarter-century. “We continue to expand our presence on and off campus, serving as the University’s largest CPR education provider and conducting community education courses both on-campus and at local elementary schools.”
Though appreciative of the upcoming public anniversary honor, Coyne said: “At the end of the day, we don’t do what we do for recognition. We are here to honor Kevin’s legacy, not our own. We love the work and feel as though it is work worth doing. When I look back on my four years here, my time will undoubtedly be defined by running this service. I am grateful for this organization, the people in it, and the job we get to do together.”
Rosanne Pellegrini \ University Communications | November 2022