EMS finds supervisor, service saved

Lions’ EMS (some members pictured above) will continue to serve the College and is no longer at risk of being disbanded. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Editor)

Lions’ Emergency Medical Services (EMS) returns to campus for its 12th year of service, after nearly shutting down last semester. Scott Sferra, billing manager for Student Financial Services, will serve as the organization’s new supervisor.

Sferra served as a co-advisor to the organization with Holly Heller for the past four years, he said in an e-mail. He is a certified and practicing emergency medical technician (EMT) with 16 years of experience.

“When I heard there was a chance that Lions’ EMS was going to disband, I decided I wanted to step up as a potential supervisor because of the needed and valuable service they provide to the campus,” he said.

Lions’ EMS announced it would shutdown last March as a result of Heller’s resignation. Heller said she stepped down because the organization required a supervisor, whose responsibilities supersede that of an advisor—the supervisor must be an EMT.

According to Regina Cummings, Lions’ EMS interim chief and a 2007 alumna working on her second degree as a nursing major, Sferra was identified as a candidate for the supervisor position at the end of May. The organization was reinstituted during the summer as a result.

Lions’ EMS is funded by the College, not the Student Finance Board (SFB), a change that occurred in 2009. According to James Norfleet, vice president for student affairs, funding for a part-time supervisor was included in the College’s budget, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in July. Norfleet appointed Sferra following discussions about the importance of the organization and need for a trained EMT supervisor.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Lions’ EMS on campus … LEMS also provides a great learning experience for students. They gain real-life medical experience and hone their leadership skills while helping others and serving our community. It’s hard to imagine (the College) without them,” Norfleet said.

Due to budgetary circumstances, the supervisor needed to be a current employee of the college, Cummings said, making the search for Heller’s replacement a difficult task, as very few individuals on campus met the criteria of the position. While Cummings said Heller is a registered nurse and incredibly knowledgeable, the growth of the group — which currently consists of approximately 80 members — demanded someone with EMT experience, primarily for legality purposes.

“As we continued to grow, the demand of the advisement grew as well,” she said. As a six-year member of Lions’ EMS, Cummings said the organization is an integral part of the College.

“We definitely fulfill a need on campus,” she said. “I definitely think it would be a disservice to disband us.”

The group starts the necessary care for patients before outside ambulances arrive, Cummings said, though 50 percent of its patients end up not having to be transported. The organization’s response time is typically less than five minutes, she said. The importance of its rapid response time heralds to the group’s inauguration, on Sept. 1, 1998, after a College faculty member suffered a cardiac issue on campus.

For incidents that happen outside health service’s hours, Lions’ EMS is able to provide pre-hospital emergency care.

When news spread that the organization was in danger of being shut down, members of the campus community voiced concern. The organization submitted a letter and proposal to the vice president of student affairs last April, resulting in an effort to preserve the organization.

“It showed that we were a presence that would be missed,” Cummings said.

Katie Brenzel can be reached at brenzel2@tcnj.edu.