In conjunction with the Cahill Career Center, Mahwah Emergency Medical Services (EMS) hosted an information session about emergency medical technician (EMT) certification and volunteer opportunities to ride with them. The members of Mahwah EMS also spoke about the work they do and the job opportunities that being an EMT can lead to.
What is Mahwah EMS?
Membership secretary and rider June Stahl, along with Ramapo students and service members Lauren Lacey and Samantha Katz, began the session by explaining what Mahwah EMS is and the services they provide. Mahwah EMS is a 501c(3) volunteer non-profit that provides ambulance services and emergency care at no extra cost. They also supply backup to neighboring communities and are on the scene when the Mahwah Fire Department is called. In 2022, they responded to a total of 2,011 calls, a record number for them.
Mahwah EMS covers the 26 square mile distance of Mahwah 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their response is massive, including areas like the ski resort and reservation, so there are two separate Mahwah EMS stations in town, one on 258 Franklin Turnpike and the other on 52 Fardale Ave. Members can join as young as 16 years old but must be at least 21 to become ambulance drivers.
“You get what you put in,” Stahl said. Being an EMT is a very challenging job, but you can get a lot out of it based on your level of commitment.
Becoming an EMT
Students must be a certified EMT in order to ride with Mahwah EMS as an EMT. Luckily, the organization provides students with the resources to take the necessary courses for certification. Prospective members have the option to complete their certification courses at an EMS academy in Paramus or Mahwah.
“This is definitely intense. You must keep up with the work,” Stahl said. Lacey had a similar view and said that instructors take certification courses very seriously. For some academies, missing or being late for more than one test can mean failing the program and starting over again.
Some of the training includes basic anatomy, physiology, patient assessment and treatment of medical and traumatic conditions. The certification programs are about 200 classroom hours and 10 hours of emergency room observation time at hospitals, such as The Valley Hospital. If you pass the certification exam, you will be certified in New Jersey for three years and in the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians for two years.
Mahwah EMS pays for the course itself through a training fund, but members must pay for the books on their own. If they remain on as a volunteer for a year, they will be reimbursed for the materials they bought. In addition, members can buy the t-shirt and jacket they need when on duty using points from an incentives program.
Volunteering with Mahwah EMS
Members are expected to be active in the organization and ride at least 24 hours a month, although they might not be called out every shift they are on. Members are also expected to attend meetings and regular training drills that are often hosted in conjunction with the Mahwah police department and fire department. Members must also be prepared to go out in all types of weather when they are on call.
Students who attended were given the opportunity to show their interest by filling out a sign-up sheet. Students interested in volunteering with Mahwah EMS can also reach out to Stahl at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will send potential volunteers the application paperwork and set up an interview once it is filled out.
If you become a member, there is a two-month probationary period where you simply ride along and observe. 16 of those 24 hours during the month become observation hours and the other eight become dedicated to online training modules. Mahwah EMS will also provide CPR certification for those who are not certified.
“We’re like a family, we really are. And like a family, we have a lot of different personalities,” Stahl said.
At the end of the event, students had the opportunity to peek inside a Mahwah EMS ambulance and see how they pull the stretcher out for patient care.
Featured photo by Matthew Wikfors