Students resuscitate Ramapo’s First Responders Club

The Ramapo First Responders Club (RFRC) is back and better than ever. The club members partnered with Ramapo College EMS (RCEMS), and the team has a lot of plans to help build a safer, more health-conscious community at Ramapo.

“The two organizations are commingled,” said faculty adviser, Evan Kutzin, who is also Ramapo’s fire marshal and EMS coordinator. “First Responders Club is just like every other club on campus… with an e-board, a budget, things like that… Then EMS is underneath Environmental Health and Safety as student workers.” 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, campus clubs and organizations saw a decrease in student involvement. This is no different for RFRC. Most of the current club members and e-board officers intended on joining RFRC before the pandemic, only to get to Ramapo and realize the club was no longer in operation.

“We were hoping if we found the right group of people, we would be able to bring back emergency services, which has not been here for over a decade.” 

– Samantha Katz RFRC vice president

“When I first came here to do my tour of Ramapo… there was a tabling event for the first responders club,” said Trey Lengyel, secretary of RFRC. Lengyel explained that, once he got settled at Ramapo and reached out to the club, it had already disbanded.

After finding their footing, the members of RFRC and RCEMS brainstormed ways to get people interested in their organizations again.

“Someone was like ‘we should land a helicopter in the middle of campus’ and I was like ‘we can do that,’” said Kutzin. “We ended up having the New Jersey State Police helicopter land… and we had a flight nurse who came and met with a bunch of students… and talked about different pre-hospital nursing careers.” 

RFRC’s main mission is to spread knowledge about the field of emergency response, ranging from EMS workers to firefighters to police officers. One of the major inspirations for bringing back RFRC was because the e-board wanted to create a community, not just bringing first responders together, but all of these other fields as well.  

The club has been busy in the short time since their revival, advocating for the input of five new locations for automated external regulators (AEDs) on campus. There are three new AEDs located in the Student Center, with one added in the Adler Center and one in the Bradley Center.

“We were hoping if we found the right group of people, we would be able to bring back emergency services, which has not been here for over a decade,” said Samantha Katz, RFRC’s vice president.

Katz noted that it can take up to 30 minutes for ambulances to get to campus. It was frustrating for RCEMS staff and students to have to wait before they could do anything to help due to Ramapo lacking the proper equipment.

“There used to be an ambulance and an EMS program here,” said Kutzin. He explained that by 2013, the on-campus ambulance was defunct and the program disappeared. Restarting RFRC and RCEMS was largely attributed to the long wait time for an ambulance to arrive on campus.

Once the program started back up, the team hired a new medical director and purchased all new equipment. Now, RCEMS has access to life-saving tools and has the opportunity to cover campus events that Ramapo used to hire private ambulances for. 

As of right now, RCEMS does not have EMTs on call throughout the day due to the infancy of the program, but that is something that the organization is looking to provide in the years to come. 

“We’re also hoping to get training for people,” said Alicia DiMontova, RFRC’s president. “For everyone [interested] that isn’t actually a first responder but just wants to… know what to do if there’s an emergency around them.”

The team has already hosted and will continue to offer CPR training, Narcan training and EMT classes through the state’s training fund.

“Most people don’t know how to be that difference in the first five minutes before Public Safety, police, EMS, etc. gets there,” said Lengyel. “So our goal is to help people learn and bridge that gap.”


Featured photo courtesy of @rcnjfirstresponders, Instagram