ACEMS Plans for Financial Aid
Issue   |   Wed, 10/26/2011 - 01:39

Starting this Interterm, Amherst College Emergency Medical Service (ACEMS) will begin giving up-front tuition assistance to students who cannot afford the costs of the Interterm EMT course. ACEMS is a student-staffed and student-administered organization that provides emergency medical response, at no cost, to any member of the campus community at any hour, any day.

Currently, ACEMS only reimburses its members for their EMT class costs after they have served on the ACEMS squad for a given period of time. While this tuition reimbursement has been helpful for many students, several have found that they were unable to come up with the total cost of the course, which can reach $1,000 with taxes and fees.

In the past, the executive board of ACEMS has hesitated to implement up-front tuition assistance, due to the risk that a student who takes the ACEMS course might decide not to serve on the ACEMS squad. ACEMS is financially autonomous, and with the exception of costs related to the ACEMS vehicles, which are separately funded by the College, the entire budget for ACEMS comes from the Association of Amherst Students (AAS).

“Although this program is a significant investment for us and for the AAS (which is responsible for funding ACEMS), we decided that it is worth it to make sure no one is prevented from joining ACEMS because of his or her financial situation,” said Shirui Chen ’12, Co-Director of Operations for ACEMS.

Chen also says that by implementing up-front tuition assistance, ACEMS will also expand its base of potential recruits, allowing them to improve the quality of their accepted applicants.

This year, the ACEMS course will run for the entirety of Interterm and into the first week or two of the spring semester. There will be approximately 125 hours of class, and the class is usually open to about 30 students. Registration will open first to Amherst students, before being opened to Five College students after the Amherst demand has been met.

As an EMT, a student can expect to get four to eight 12-hour shifts per month, depending on staffing levels.

“Serving on ACEMS is not for everyone,” Chen said. “But for those with a strong work ethic who are excited about responding to medical emergencies and learning the ins and outs of emergency medical care, it is an immensely enjoyable and rewarding experience.”

There is a widespread belief on campus that that the vast majority of ACEMS calls are alcohol-related. According to Chen, that myth must be debunked.

“Only about 40 percent of our calls are related to alcohol consumption. The rest deal with medical emergencies including sprains, serious lacerations, seizures, asthma attacks, drug overdose and diabetic emergencies,” Chen said.

Cynthia Chio ’12, the ACEMS Co-Director of Inventory, expects more interaction for the students in this years’ EMT interterm course. Divided into lectures and practicals, the course provides students with information on the equipment used — such as stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, and first aid kits — and a practical approach to using the equipment in various situations, said Chio. Because ACEMS is placing more current EMT’s in the course as teacher assistants, “it will be a more natural adjustment” when they join the organization.

Will Biche ’13, the ACEMS Co-Director of Operations, believes ACEMS provides a “great experience to work as an EMT and provide service to peers.” ACEMS is expecting a larger amount of applicants after they implent the new funding system.

— Darrian Kelly ’15 contributed reporting.